Pakistan resumes flights to and from China, screens passengers for virus

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan said on Monday it was resuming flights to and from China, three days after it suspended them because of the coronavirus outbreak in China.A paramedic staff stands outside an isolation section, set up for the precautionary measures for the coronavirus patients treatment, at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Center (JPMC) in Karachi, Pakistan February 3, 2020. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

The decision runs counter to many other airlines and governments which have tightened travel restrictions and suspended more flights in response to the fast-spreading virus which is thought to have originated in China’s Hubei province.

China and Pakistan are close allies, and mutual travel and investment has increased sharply in recent years.

“We are resuming flight operations with China,” additional secretary of aviation Abdul Sattar Khokhar told Reuters by text message, adding that a China Southern Airlines flight carrying 145 passengers would arrive in Islamabad later on Monday.

Chinese and Pakistani authorities said they were screening passengers, and 12 Chinese citizens who had flown into Pakistan would be traced and registered by the Chinese embassy.