American Airlines announced Wednesday that it will cancel several flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and Beijing next month as the deadly coronavirus continues to spread throughout parts of the globe.
The airline said it will suspend the route between February 9 and March 27 but will continue service from Dallas-Fort Worth. The move comes after United Airlines paused its flights to China, citing the outbreak and a drop in demand. The Fort Worth-based carrier is canceling its flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai and to Beijing. This week, British Airways and Cathay Pacific also said they will cut back flights to China, with the latter suspending service from London to Shanghai and Beijing.
Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned with China’s handling of the illness, which has killed 132 people, while 5,974 cases are under medical care. On Tuesday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) called on the Trump administration to implement a “targeted travel ban” on the Asian country. “Given the latest developments and the many unknowns about this virus, we ought to follow Benjamin Franklin’s maxim: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. America is blessed with world-leading researchers and laboratories on the cutting edge of medical science and epidemiology,” Cotton wrote in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, HSS Secretary Alex Azar, and acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolfe Working in tandem with them, I’m confident our federal research agencies can develop a vaccine in record time.”
The U.S. is ramping up its response to the 2019 novel coronavirus as it continues to spread, U.S. government officials said Tuesday, as they expand airport screenings and develop potential vaccines and drug treatments for the disease.
Multiple agencies are engaged in efforts to stem the spread of the virus beyond the five initial confirmed U.S. cases, all of which involved people who had traveled to Hubei province in China, ground zero for the virus.
The CDC on Tuesday announced plans to expand screening of travelers from China for the virus from five to 20 international airports across the country, and United Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to cancel flights to China as it suspended 24 flights scheduled for the first week of February.
“To better protect the health of the American public during the emergence of this novel coronavirus and based on evolving information from China, CDC has reassessed its entry strategy,” CDC director Robert Redfield told reporters at a press conference.
The UPI contributed to this report.
Editor’s Note: This photo was taken in Miami, FL in March 2019. The photo choice is illustrative rather than a literal depiction of a flight grounded by this recent decision.