Ethiopian Airlines Refuses To Ground Flights To China Amid Worsening Coronavirus Outbreak

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
coronavirus Ethiopian Airlines
While 59 carriers from 44 countries have all grounded their flights to China amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak, Ethiopian Airlines is refusing to do so. Health officials wear face masks at an inspection at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. Image: AP Photo/Vincent Thian

Africans are angry at Ethiopian Airlines‘ decision to continue operating direct flights to China despite a worsening coronavirus epidemic that threatens to spread to Africa through the airline.

While 59 other carriers from 44 different countries have all grounded their flights to China, Ethiopian Airlines is refusing to do so, citing directives from the World Health Organization that it is safe to continue daily flights to the country, according to TheAfricaReport.

The coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan, has been responsible for more than 31,000 confirmed cases and at least 568 deaths, 99 percent of which have been in China.

In a statement Ethiopian Airlines said it would continue to fly out of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong and protect its crew and passengers.

The Ethiopian government, which owns Ethiopian Airlines, believes that it can handle any coronavirus risks as the country continues to receive around 1,500 passengers a day from China.

This is concerning as other countries with more robust healthcare infrastructure such as the U.S., Japan, and Australia have issued travel restrictions and canceled flights.

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The coronavirus is reportedly undetectable at the earliest stage of infection.

That means that someone infected in China and traveling to Africa may only show signs of the illness when it is too late and he or she is already through all of the checks at airports — at which point the airborne disease can spread.

This is particularly worrying in the case of Ethiopian Airlines which flies to 106 international and 23 domestic destinations and is an important airline for many Africans traveling to and from the continent.

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