22:49 GMT26 February 2020
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    The new strain of coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan, Hubei Province in December and has since spread to more than 20 countries.

    Australia's flagship carrier Qantas Airways Limited issued a statement on Saturday, saying that it will suspend its two direct flights to mainland China.

    "Qantas flights to and from Beijing and Shanghai continue to operate. In response to the current coronavirus infection originating in Wuhan, China, Qantas is offering flexible options to customers booked to travel to/from/via mainland China between 24 January and 31 March 2020 (inclusive)", the statement reads.

    The carrier noted that its "flights to China are currently operating as normal and we will continue to monitor the situation".

    Qantas became just the latest airline to have either completely halted flights to China or offered full refunds. Others include Air China, AirAsia, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic.

    The new strain of coronavirus was first detected last December in Wuhan and has since spread to 20 countries. The epidemic has already left 259 people dead and over 11,000 infected in China.

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