More than 1,200 flights were cancelled at Beijing Airports on Wednesday morning as fears of a fresh coronavirus outbreak linked to a wholesale meat market in the Chinese capital spiked. The cancellations came after 31 fresh cases of coronavirus infections were reported on Wednesday morning. Schools were also closed down in the city.
Although authorities claim that some of the patients have been cured, people have been fearing a second wave of coronavirus outbreak since the beginning of the week. As many as 106 people tested positive for Covid-19 since June 11. Beijing authorities banned on Tuesday taxis and other transport services from leaving the city.
China Tightens Measures
At least 1,255 scheduled flights were cancelled by different carriers on Wednesday morning following orders from Chinese authorities, according to state-run People's Daily. This accounts for almost 70 percent of all flights flying to and from Beijing's airports and is likely to increase through the day as the capital is restricting outbound travel. A total of 615 outbound and 640 inbound flights were pulled out of the daily schedule.
All the affected flights were from the country's domestic network including cities like Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai and Chongqing. Air China has so far suspended 272 flights, while Star Alliance, one of the biggest domestic carriers, announced that it has cancelled 295 flights in and out of Beijing. Rival carrier China Southern has cancelled a larger number of domestic flights. However, it is yet to officially announce the total number of scheduled cancellations.
Some foreign carriers like Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, which were lately allowed to resume limited number of flights in China, too have also suspended all their flights to and from Beijing to Tokyo.
What's in Store?
The news of flight cancellations come amid signs of recovery in domestic travel demand. However, the fresh cases of infection have once again raised concerns of a second wave of coronavirus outbreak. Beijing reported 31 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, with the tally reaching 137 since last Thursday when an outbreak was first detected in Xinfadi wholesale market, the biggest in Beijing.
Since then the underground market has been closed, while libraries and parks will open for a limited period of time. Schools also have been closed down once again and group sports have been banned. More 11 markets have been closed in Beijing and over 8,000 workers have also been quarantined since then.
A day earlier, authorities had banned all taxis and other transport from leaving Beijing anticipating risk and raised the disease alert level to Level 3. Until the new outbreak, most of the cases being reported in China were nationals travelling from abroad. China has also resumed mass testing over the past week. China on Tuesday said that the new pathogen was detected on a fish cutting board used by an imported salmon vendor in Xinfadi, with experts claiming that this outbreak is more infectious than the one detected in Wuhan last year.