January 30, 2020 / 12:30 PM / 23 days ago

UPDATE 1-Czechs halt issuance of visas to Chinese, consider flight ban

(Adds PM considering ban on flights)

PRAGUE, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The Czech Republic has halted the issuance of visas to Chinese citizens and is considering a ban on flights from China due to the spread of the new coronavirus, government officials said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said no new visas were being issued and no new applications were being taken, news agency CTK reported.

A ministry spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.

Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Czech Television that the government may also halt flights from China to the central European country.

“I am considering - unless something significant happens, as Europe is not very proactive - that I will propose to the government on Monday to temporarily halt all flights form China,” he said.

Direct connections to Prague are operated by Hainan Airlines from Beijing, China Eastern Airlines from Shanghai and Xi’an, and Sichuan Airlines from Chengdu.

The Czech Republic has not confirmed any cases of infection by the virus, which has killed about 170 people in China and infected thousands of others so far. (Reporting by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Gareth Jones and Hugh Lawson)

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