KARACHI: China has stopped the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) from operating flights for three weeks after 10 Pakistani passengers tested positive.
PIA Spokesman Abdullah Hafeez confirmed that the national flag carrier has temporarily halted the flights after the development.
Pakistanis, who travelled to China with a negative coronavirus test report, tested positive upon arrival, the spokesperson added.
China has also imposed a temporary travel ban on Pakistani passengers. PIA operates two weekly flights to China.
China reported the highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in more than 10 months, official data showed on Friday, due to a severe outbreak in the northeast that has put more than 28 million people under lockdown.
A total of 144 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Jan. 14, the National Health Commission said in a statement, up from 138 cases a day earlier and marking the highest daily increase since 202 cases reported on March 1.
Total case numbers remains well below what China saw at the height of the outbreak in early 2020, but concerns about a new country-wide wave are growing with a major national holiday a month away and estimates of 296 million railway passenger trips during the Lunar New Year break.
The commission said 135 of the new cases were local infections, 90 of which were in Hebei province surrounding Beijing that has been hit hardest in the latest wave. Another 43 cases were reported in northeastern Heilongjiang province, with Guangxi and Shaanxi provinces each reporting one confirmed case.