ISLAMABAD - There is no ban on flights between China and Pakistan, the Chinese embassy said yesterday.

In a statement, the Chinese embassy said the flights were ‘normal’ between the two friendly nations.

“Dr Zafar Mirza, Special Assistant to PM on Health has confirmed to the embassy that the ban of flights from China to Pakistan is miscommunication. The flights are all normal,” added the embassy.

Over the weekend, Pakistan had announced it would immediately resume suspended flight operations to and from coronavirus-hit China.

Islamabad had suspended flight operations to and from China on January 29 amid rising casualties from the novel coronavirus outbreak that the World Health Organisation promoted to a global health emergency last week.

Air China made the first flight to Karachi, after taking off from the Chinese capital Beijing. National carrier Pakistan International Airlines and two Chinese airlines - Air China and China Southern Airlines - will operate a total 12 flights per week between the two countries.

Over Pakistani 500 students currently reside in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak that began late last year. So far, at least four Pakistani students in central Wuhan have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

No coronavirus cases have yet been confirmed in Pakistan.

The novel coronavirus, so named because under the microscope it resembles a crown, has killed at least 304 people in China, with over 14,000 infected.

Since its outbreak, China has put Wuhan under lockdown in a bid to contain the virus and is building a 1,000-bed hospital to treat those affected.

Beyond China, the virus has spread to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the US, Singapore, France, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, Nepal and Canada.

Travellers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide.

Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.

The coronavirus outbreak in China also prompted Islamabad to delay the annual opening of the only border crossing between the two countries, the Khunjerab Pass in northern Gilgit-Baltistan region.

“As for Khunjerab border the government of Gilgit Baltistan has rescheduled its opening. Now it will be opened in April,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui had said last week.

Under a longstanding bilateral understanding, Khunjerab - at more than 15,000 feet, the highest paved International border crossing in the world - is closed in November due to heavy snowfall and reopens around end of April.