Chinese officials confirmed Wednesday that the number of people infected by a new form of coronavirus in the country has reached nearly 6,000, a total that surpassed the official cases tallied on the mainland during an outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002 and 2003. The new SARS-like form of coronavirus has killed 132 people in China. The disease, which is believed to have originated in a seafood market in the Chinese central city of Wuhan, has also spread to other countries, including the US, where five cases have been confirmed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile, Russia said it is working with China to develop a coronavirus vaccine and Beijing has handed over the genome of the virus to Moscow. The death toll in China from coronavirus rose to 132 on Wednesday with the number of confirmed cases now at nearly 6,000. “Russian and Chinese experts have begun developing a vaccine,” the Russian consulate in Guangzhou city said in a statement.

British Airways today suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China after Britain warned against all but essential travel to the country due to the coronavirus outbreak., the airline’s website, shows no direct flights to China are available in January and February. BA flies daily from London’s Heathrow airport to Shanghai and Beijing.

Its announcement came after Russia’s Urals Airlines on Wednesday said it had suspended some services to Europe popular with Chinese tourists, including Paris and Rome, because of the outbreak.

Indonesia’s Lion Air Group, Southeast Asia’s biggest carrier by fleet size, is halting all its flights to and from China owing to the deadly coronavirus, a company spokesman said Wednesday. “All flights to China will be suspended temporarily starting from February 1 until further notice,” Danang Mandala Prihantoro told AFP. Dozens of flights would be affected on routes to 15 Chinese cities, he added.


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