A new strain of the virus named coronavirus has been originated in Wuhan, the capital of Central China’s Hubei province. The first known cases of coronavirus infection were traced back to an animal market in Wuhan. It is believed to have come from contact with live animals that were infected. Over the past few weeks, this novel virus has been spreading rapidly, leading to over 120,000 total confirmed cases of infection and causing nearly 4,500 deaths.
On January 25, Beijing Capital International Airport looked deserted as people refrained from traveling amidst the coronavirus outbreak. The desolated view at one of the world’s busiest airports made it look like a ghost town. Beijing International Airport caters to over 95 million passengers annually.
A 51-year-old teacher, Suzan Tokdemir, traveling from Hong Kong to Beijing Capital International Airport said, “It took me 15 minutes from getting off the plane to standing outside the front of the airport – that included collecting my luggage, passport check, fingerprint scan and more.” In addition, she said the staff disinfected the aircraft before taking off and after landing. And further asked everyone to report the symptoms if they experienced any.
Suzan, who flew back to Beijing, said it was “spooky” to see the numbers dwindle on each of her connecting flights. She said, “Even at Hong Kong airport, almost everyone was masked. I had hired a driver to take me home, and he got stopped by masked police on the way back and had his temperature checked.” Surprisingly, even Beijing’s motorway was also empty. The coronavirus threat has forced everyone to stay indoors.
In order to contain the virus, government officials have temporarily stopped all means of transport to and from Wuhan. Officials stated that they would also suspend visa and passport services for Chinese citizens until January 30. The travel ban comes just days before the biggest holiday on the Chinese calendar – Lunar New Year.
On the other hand, hundreds of airlines flying to, from and via Wuhan Province in Central China have canceled their flights. Moreover, these airlines have also waived off the cancelation and rescheduling charges. Owing to the coronavirus outbreak, multiple sectors including aviation, tourism, hospitality and stock markets have taken a huge hit.
The airlines include Air China, Capital Airlines, Emirates, British Airways, IndiGo, Air India, Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Chengdu Airlines, China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, China United Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Lucky Air, Hainan Airlines, OK Air, Scoot, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Spring Airlines, Suparna Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, West Air, Urumqi Air, and Xiamen Air.
Apart from China, additional coronavirus cases have been identified in the US, Bangladesh, Australia, France, Hong Kong, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.