- Italy's death toll surpassed China's on Thursday, in a bleak signal that the epicenter had shifted.
- China is now concerned about the second wave of infections from abroad.
- Hong Kong's low-cost carrier will suspend all flights between Monday and April 30, due to falling demand and travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the second consecutive day, the Chinese health authorities announced that they did not register new cases of local transmission of the new coronavirus. Still, the increase in imported infections slowed progress in fighting the disease. The death toll in China has also dropped dramatically, and the National Health Commission recorded three fatalities on Friday, the lowest daily balance since it started releasing data on the pandemic in January.
In a bleak signal that shows how the crisis has shifted from Asia to Europe, the number of deaths in China, 3,248, was surpassed by Italy on Thursday, where more than 3,400 people died. There have been almost 81,000 infections in China, but fewer than 7,000 people remain sick with Covid-19.
In January, about 56 million people in Hubei province, whose capital is Wuhan, were subjected to a giant quarantine, although authorities have already begun to reduce travel and circulation restrictions gradually. However, China is now concerned about the second wave of infections from abroad, prompting several regions, including Beijing, to force those arriving from other countries to be quarantined for 14 days.
The National Health Commission registered 39 new imported cases on Friday, bringing the total to 228.
Covid-19: HK Express Suspends Flights
Hong Kong’s low-cost carrier will suspend all flights between Monday and April 30, due to falling demand and travel restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “This is a decision we have not taken lightly,” said HK Express executive director Mandy Ng in a statement. “Unfortunately, it is now essential in order to ensure we see ourselves through this extremely difficult period. Given all the challenges we have been facing, preserving our cash position is key to make sure we stay together as team.”
The airline, owned by airline Cathay Pacific, plans to resume operations on May 1, and will continue to sell tickets for flights to take place after that date. According to the daily South China Morning Post, HK Express is the first company to take such a drastic step in the Chinese Special Administrative Region. However, about 50 companies in the sector worldwide have also decided to temporarily suspend operations.
The restrictions on travel to Japan, one of the global focuses of the SARS–CoV-2 coronavirus, imposed a severe setback on the company, which had one of its most frequented destinations in the Japanese country. With the pandemic, HK Express went from 34 daily flights from Hong Kong International Airport to five flights over the past week.
So far, Hong Kong has diagnosed 209 cases of Covid-19, including four dead, according to local health officials. In addition to the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, anti-government demonstrations added to the drop in visitors last year. For about six months, demonstrators took over the streets of Hong Kong.