Yet another flight has been turned back to China due to suspicions that a passenger had contracted coronavirus. Today, Myanmar turned a China Southern flight back to China after a passenger was found to have flu-like symptoms.
As the virus spreads, so do the stories of flight disruptions and delays. The latest update shows that a flight from Guangzhou in China was returned to its origin with almost all passengers still on board.
A Chinese national disembarked in Yangon, Myanmar, and was immediately sent to a hospital. It has been reported that two Myanmar citizens also disembarked and will be isolated at home for two weeks.
Although no official cases of coronavirus have been reported in Myanmar, or on the flight, all of the other passengers were forced to remain on the plane and were flown back to China. According to airport officials, there were a total of 79 people on board including the two Myanmar citizens who were allowed to disembark, two American, two French, a Colombian and 72 Chinese nationals, all but one of whom were forced to return to China.
The flight left China on Friday Morning, arriving in Myanmar at 10.40 local time. The plane was then returned to China landing at 19.34 local time, almost three hours late. The Airbus A319 twin-jet aircraft was being operated by China Southern Airlines.
So far, Myanmar has no reported cases of the fast-spreading, headline-grabbing coronavirus. This is a surprise as the country shares a long, fairly open border with China and has yet to place a travel ban on Chinese citizens.
The country also has no way to officially testing for the virus, so any suspected cases are being tested in Thailand. Currently, Myanmar has imposed temperature testing at airports and border gates as a way to prevent diseased individuals from entering the country.
The country is currently preparing itself for the return of 60 students who were studying in the Chinese city of Wuhan, one of the places most affected by the virus. The students are due to return to Myanmar’s capital Yangon on Sunday. The city of Wuhan has been sealed off since last week as it was the epicenter of the outbreak.
Reaction to coronavirus
The aviation industry has had a swift and decisive response to the virus which has killed 213 people. Airlines have been canceling flights to China in an attempt to prevent the spread of the disease. Despite the fact no one has died outside China, the World Health Organisation declared the virus as an international emergency.
China Southern may be hit hardest in the long run as it currently controls 30% of the seats flying into Wuhan. Wuhan airport normally sees 25 million passengers per year but has been mainly closed since 23 January. The result is that China Southern’s shares dropped by 6.7% over the past week, one of the biggest drops of any Chinese airline.
While many airlines including British Airways and United Airlines have canceled flights to and from China. While this will impact the airline’s profits if the virus continues to spread, analysts expect the Chinese airlines to feel the biggest impact. At the time of publication, China Southern has not responded to our request for comment.
For up to date information about canceled flights, check here.