China's Airline Passengers Are Returning Quickly to the Skies as Officials Ease Coronavirus Restrictions

The number of passengers flying on China's airlines have risen this month, as the country lifts its stringent lockdown restrictions.

The daily transported air passenger numbers rose 7.9 percent this month from March, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Wednesday.

There are still far fewer people flying on Chinese airlines compared to a year ago, the CAAC said. The country's number of daily flights increased by just 1 percent in April to 6,586, amounting to just 42 percent of daily flights before the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters reported.

Airlines are facing an unprecedented international crisis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Severe border restrictions in response to the spread of COVID-19 have led to a drop in demand for air travel.

According to estimates by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global industry will lose $252 billion in 2020. America's travel industry is among the hardest hit, with the U.S. Travel Association estimating a loss of 4.6 million jobs through May.

Lockdown restrictions have been eased in recent weeks in China and the number of weekly cargo flights has been increased to stabilize supply chains disrupted by coronavirus.

The CAAC said the number of cargo flights had doubled to 1,989 during the week beginning April 20, up from 1,014 flights before the epidemic struck. Of those flights, 939 had been converted from civil flights.

At the end of March, China announced it would be lifting the lockdown on Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, more than two months after the city introduced the measures.

China reported no new deaths from the coronavirus, but registered 30 more cases—23 of them brought from abroad—as of Wednesday.

Of the domestic cases, all seven were reported in Heilongjiang province, the region bordering Russia. A makeshift field hospital in the area has been opened in order to handle new coronavirus cases that have arisen.

The temporary medical facility, which used to be an office building, is the first coronavirus hospital facility to be opened in China since the 16 that were operated in Wuhan.

China has reported a total of 4,632 deaths and over 83,000 cases, as the chart below by Statista shows. The majority of confirmed infections were in Wuhan where officials recently raised the death toll by 50 percent after a review of records.

Statista
This infographic shows countries with the most COVID-19 cases. Statista

The state Xinhua News Agency quoted an unidentified official within Wuhan's epidemic and prevention and control headquarters as saying that the early stages of the outbreak saw "insufficiency in admission and treatment capability."

As a result, the official said, "a few medical institutions failed to connect with the disease prevention and control system in time, while hospitals were overloaded and medics were overwhelmed with patients." This led to "belated, missed and mistaken reporting occurred," the official explained.

China airlines
There are still far fewer people flying on Chinese airlines compared to a year ago, the CAAC said Amilcar Orfali/Getty Images

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.