Employees of two Chinese state-owned companies in Iraq have been prohibited from returning to China after 14 coworkers flew home with the coronavirus, AP reported Beijing's embassy in Baghdad stating on Friday.
China has several times prevented airlines from flying specific routes after infections were found among passengers. According to AP, this is the first time a decision was taken to target Chinese citizens working for state-owned companies abroad.
Failure to detect the virus before the employees boarded two Iraqi Airways flights "caused a serious risk of importing the epidemic," the statement of the Chinese Embassy in Baghdad announced.
According to AP, China has lifted most restrictions on travel and business within China since declaring the virus under control last March. AP also disclosed that China is gradually easing rules on travel in and out of the country.
Once the suspension is lifted, the employees in Iraq will be required to undergo virus tests within 48 hours of boarding a flight, the embassy confirmed.
China said on Friday that it would suspend Iraqi Airways flights from Baghdad to Guangzhou for two weeks due to the incident.
The Chinese air regulator announced two-week suspensions of routes flown by Air France, Rwanda Airlines and Bangladesh's US-Bangla Airlines because infected passengers were found on their flights.