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China urges its citizens to delay foreign travel over virus fears

Authorities delay restart of schools, universities over virus concerns

BEIJING: China on Tuesday urged its citizens to postpone trips abroad as the country expands a massive effort to contain a viral outbreak that has killed more than 100 people nationwide.

Also on Tuesday, the authorities postponed the start of the spring semester for schools and universities across the country over concerns about a deadly virus outbreak. School administrators had been instructed to "require students not to go out, not to gather, and not to hold or participate in centralised activities", the statement added.

The Chinese Authorities in a decision reached on Monday decided to extend China's Lunar New Year holiday, originally due to end on January 30, for three days to limit population flows and control the epidemic while the National Immigration Administration said in a statement that the recommendation to delay non-essential travel was issued "in order to protect the health and safety of Chinese and foreign people."

"Reducing people's cross-border movement helps to prevent and control outbreaks," the agency added.

Authorities had already suspended domestic and overseas Chinese group tours as part of nationwide efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 4,500 people across the country.

Chinese nationals took almost 150 million trips abroad in 2018, the official Xinhua news agency reported in May.

A drastic reduction of trips abroad from China could deal a severe blow to the international tourism industry.

The number of tourists from the country has increased nearly tenfold since 2003, according to a report by research firm Capital Economics.

The decision came as the death toll from the new coronavirus soared to 106 and the total number of cases surpassed 4,000 nationwide. Students are currently on holiday for the Lunar New Year and the education ministry did not provide a date for teaching to resume. 

But a statement from the ministry said teaching institutions would reopen on a case-by-case basis. 

(With AFP)

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