By Sam Bridge
General Civil Aviation Authority says suspension affecting all UAE airlines will take effect from Wednesday
The UAE on Monday announced the suspension of all flights to and from China, with the exception of the country's capital, Beijing.
The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said in a statement carried by state news agency WAM that the suspension would come into force on February 5 and will run until further notice, adding that the decision is part of precautionary measures undertaken by the UAE to confront the outbreak of the new coronavirus.
"We continue to put our confidence in the Chinese Government’s efforts to control and contain the situation," the statement said.
The suspension comes as China's death toll from the coronavirus epidemic soared past 360 on Monday, with deepening global concern about the outbreak and governments closing their borders to people from China.
The fresh toll came a day after China imposed a lockdown on a major city far from the epicentre and the first fatality outside the country was reported in the Philippines.
Since emerging out of Wuhan late last year, the new coronavirus has infected more than 17,200 people across China and reached 24 nations.
The G7 countries - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States - have all confirmed cases of the virus. They will discuss a joint response, Germany's health minister Jens Spahn said on Sunday.
The GCAA said that all passengers travelling from Beijing International Airport will be required to undergo a 6-8 hour comprehensive medical screening at the airport to ensure the safety of passengers before boarding.
It also urged airlines to communicate the new procedures with passengers to avoid flight delays.
The GCAA said the decision to suspend flights came after studying and analysing the current conditions on the spread of the virus, adding that it coordinated with international agencies and worked closely with national agencies such as the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA), the Ministry of Health and Prevention, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airlines.
It said NCEMA and other relevant authorities are "continuously evaluating the situation in China and will make decisions accordingly".
On Saturday, it was announced that a fifth person in the UAE has been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention said the person was stable and under medical care.