China has advised its citizens to postpone trips abroad and cancelled overseas group tours, while several countries including the United States, Germany, Britain and Japan have urged their citizens to avoid travel to China.
The Foreign Ministry said Friday that in light of the World Health Organization announcement, it recommended that Israelis not travel to China until the emergency is declared over and that those in China consider leaving the country.
This is in spite of the fact that Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, is the epicentre of a new virus outbreak that is believed to have originated in a market that sold wild animals.
He added that there was "no reason for measures that affect worldwide travel and trade", sparking hope that airlines could soon restart routes to China and businesses might get the green light to open their doors. "Chinese officials seem to also feel that way".
"We have received a notification from civil aviation authority regarding the flight suspension to China, since it is a decision from the regulatory body we will obey its directions", said PIA spokesman Aamir Memon. But the outcome of inaction could be even more drastic.
"Some of the new data that's come out of China has shown that the incubation period is, as we expected, for the most part around a maximum of 10 days, so we've been using 14 days... to give ourselves a bit of a buffer zone", she said.
The U.S. has been offering additional evacuation flights for private citizens out of China. The first of four planned flights taking South Koreans home landed on Friday. The evacuees were taken to quarantine centres.
"The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries. And then there are a host of other reasons why they can actually be counterproductive", said Catherine Worsnop, who studies worldwide cooperation during global health emergencies at the University of Maryland.
"This declaration is not a vote of non-confidence in China", he said.
"We think we have it very well under control. Worldwide solidarity is extremely important and for that goal all countries should behave in a ... responsible manner", Zhang said. Hubei is in virtual lockdown.
"The virus is already on five continents and as we said, it is likely only a matter of time until it reaches us", Moshe Bar Siman-Tov, director-general of the Health Ministry, tweeted Friday.
Speaking by Skype from Utah, Kelly Flanagan, 36, a school counselor in China since 2011, said she is planning to stay out of China as she watches the virus spread.
Statistics from China indicate that just over 2% of people infected have died, suggesting that the virus may be less deadly than the coronaviruses behind 2002-2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). He further stated that a review of the situation prevailing in China and its impact around the rest of the world would be undertaken next week. Only seven of those patients had no travel history to China.
Four Chinese provinces, including Shandong and Heilongjiang in the country's industrial rust-belt region, have asked companies not to start work before February 10.