A child greets a ground staff member after getting off a charter plane at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Feb 5, 2020. Air China and China Eastern Airlines each sent flights to pick up 370 Hubei residents who had been stranded in Singapore and Japan. More than 1,500 people from Hubei have returned home on charter planes since the outbreak. (WEI LAI / FOR CHINA DAILY)
China is strongly concerned and dissatisfied with certain countries' ill-advised decisions to suspend flights to and from China, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.
After some countries resorted to extreme restrictions such as suspending flights despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and International Civil Aviation Organization not to do so, some Chinese nationals have ended up stranded overseas, ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news briefing.
I want to stress again that China's civil flights will not be suspended, and the country will continue to do its utmost to bring home Chinese citizens who are stranded overseas
Hua Chunying, Foreign Ministry spokesperson
"I want to stress again that China's civil flights will not be suspended, and the country will continue to do its utmost to bring home Chinese citizens who are stranded overseas," Hua said.
"We hope relevant countries will bear in mind overall relations and people's interests and resume normal operation of flights to guarantee normal people-to-people exchanges and cooperation," she said.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China has required all domestic airlines to strive to ensure services of international routes will not stop amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, said Yu Biao, an official with the administration, in response to reports that many foreign airlines have suspended their flights to China.
Many Chinese airlines are trying their best to find ways to overcome difficulties, he said at a news conference on Thursday held by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council, an intergovernmental system that consolidates disease prevention efforts from different government bodies.
Yu took Air China as an example, noting that the carrier is applying to open international multi-stop flights to pick up more passengers, which could be a good choice at such a time.
The country recently dispatched 12 charter flights to bring back more than 1,500 Hubei residents who had been stranded overseas since the outbreak, Yu said.
The administration will arrange more charter flights to pick up Chinese tourists who are still stranded abroad with the support of embassies and consulates overseas, as well as cultural and tourism authorities, he said.
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Cai Tuanjie, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport, said transport authorities will limit the number of passengers using public transportation in a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus during the return leg of the Spring Festival travel rush.
As of Wednesday, the total number of passenger trips during the Spring Festival travel rush that started on Jan 10 has slumped nearly 35 percent year-on-year to about 1.32 billion, he said.
The country will handle about 400 million trips during the rest of the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, a 70 percent decrease from the same period last year, he said.
Transport authorities will boost sanitation and sterilization efforts on public transportation vehicles and create isolated spaces at the backs of such vehicles to be used as temporary quarantine areas in emergency situations, he added.
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