Pakistan halts China flights amid coronavirus outbreak

Staff members wearing protective masks prepare a room in an isolation ward as a preventative measure following the coronavirus outbreak, at a hospital in Islamabad on Jan. 31, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 15 March 2020

Pakistan halts China flights amid coronavirus outbreak

  • So far there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Pakistan, however four Pakistani students in China have been confirmed as infected
  • Some 28,000 to 30,000 Pakistanis are living in China, while more than 500 Pakistani students are in virus-hit Wuhan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Friday temporarily suspended all direct flights with China, after a global health emergency was declared over the coronavirus epidemic which has killed more than 200 people.
"We have suspended all the direct flights to and from China with immediate effect till February 02," Abdul Sattar Khokhar, a spokesperson for Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), he told AFP.
The spokesperson didn't comment on the reason for the flight suspensions. A decision on whether flights will be resumed will be made on Sunday.
The three airlines affected are Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), Air China and China Southern Airlines, Khokhar said.
"We have received a notification from civil aviation authority regarding the flight suspension to China, since it is a decision from the regulatory body we will obey its directions," said PIA spokesman Aamir Memon.
So far there is no confirmed case of coronavirus in Pakistan, however four Pakistani students in China have been confirmed as infected.
Some 28,000 to 30,000 Pakistanis are living in China, while more than 500 Pakistani students are in virus-hit Wuhan, according to officials.
The foreign ministry told reporters on Thursday that there were no immediate plans to evacuate Pakistani citizens from China.
Separately, Zafar Mirza, special assistant to Prime Minister Imran Khan on heath, told a press conference: "We don't want to make any emotional decision which could bring this disease to Pakistan, we will take a rational decision on appropriate time."

Meanwhile, India on Friday said it had banned the export of personal protection equipment such as masks and clothing amid the outbreak.
 


Children killed in Afghan air strike that hit mosque: officials

Updated 35 min 47 sec ago

Children killed in Afghan air strike that hit mosque: officials

  • Provincial police spokesman Khalil Aseer: The air strike was carried out when the victims were busy studying the Holy Qur’an
  • The ministry of defense — who confirmed the strike was carried out by the Afghan air force — denied civilians had died

KUNDUZ, Afghanistan: An air strike by the Afghan military killed 11 children and a prayer leader at a mosque, local authorities said Thursday, in an account disputed by the national government.
The strike on a village in northeastern Takhar province on Wednesday came as Afghan security forces clashed with suspected Taliban fighters, according to provincial police spokesman Khalil Aseer.
“The air strike was carried out when the victims were busy studying the Holy Qur’an,” Aseer said, adding a prayer leader was killed and 11 students.
He said 14 others were wounded.
Mohammad Jawad Hejri, the spokesman for the provincial governor, also said the strike had killed children.
But the ministry of defense — who confirmed the strike was carried out by the Afghan air force — denied civilians had died.
“Twelve Taliban including several of their commanders were killed,” it said.
Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh said news that children had died in a mosque “was baseless.”
“Those who spread rumors will be dealt with,” he wrote on Facebook.
The ministry of defense said it had appointed a team to investigate.
“The enemy bombarded the mosque at a time when tens of children were busy in religious studies,” the Taliban said in a statement, adding the air strike had destroyed the mosque.
The Afghan military has a fledgeling air force and small attack planes capable of conducting limited close-air support for troops on the ground.
Heavy fighting in Takhar since Tuesday has left at least 25 Afghan security personnel dead, officials have said.
Despite joining peace talks with the government in Qatar last month, the Taliban have only increased violence in a bid to wield leverage in the negotiations.
The top US envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said earlier this week that fighting is threatening the peace process.