China has said the domestic passenger flights will resume operations in the coronavirus epicentre Hubei province, except for its capital Wuhan, from Sunday as part of a plan to ease lockdown in the region after it reported zero COVID-19 cases for several days.
No new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease were reported in Wuhan on Friday, though the city reported three new fatalities, taking the total death toll in China to 3,295.
The Central Hubei province has so far reported a total of 67,801 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 50,006 in Wuhan.
Domestic operations in the province except in Wuhan Tianhe International Airport will be resumed from Sunday, China's Civil Aviation Regulator (CAAC) said on Friday.
Local bus and train services have already resumed in Wuhan and Hubei province.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Wuhan and the province with over 56 million people was kept under lockdown from January 23 as part of aggressive measures to bring down COVID-19 cases which rapidly spread in the area.
Flight operations from Wuhan would start from April 8, CAAC said.
Due to mounting pressure from the epidemic prevention and control, the flights to resume services exclude international passenger flights, flights to and from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and those between Hubei and Beijing, state-run Xinhua new agency reported.
The cargo flights will resume operations from March 29 at all airports in the central Hubei Province.
Aviation companies are encouraged to add extra domestic and international cargo flights to stabilise the supply chain, the CAAC said.
The novel coronavirus, that first originated in wuhan in December, has wreaked havoc across the globe, upending life and businesses.
According to Johns Hopkins University data, 27,333 people have died due to the disease across over 170 countries. Italy has the highest number of deaths at 9,134, followed by Spain 5,138 and China 3,174.The United States leads in the number of COVID-19 with 104,007 infections confirmed so far, followed by Italy (86,498) and China (81,906).