British Airways has suspended bookings on its website for direct flights from London to Beijing and Shanghai until March, after warnings over travel to China due to the coronavirus outbreak., the airline’s website, shows no direct flights to China are available in January and February.

A spokeswoman for the airline said on Wednesday it was “assessing the situation”.

Britain on Tuesday advised against “all but essential” travel to mainland China due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the (UK) Foreign Office against all but essential travel,” BA said in a statement.

Airports have been adding passenger screenings and taking other precautions to prevent the spread of the virus by Chinese tourists going abroad for the Lunar New Year holidays.

The US and Japan have today managed to fly citizens out of Wuhan as the death toll rose sharply to 132 and the first case appeared in the Middle East.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it is confident in China’s ability to contain the coronavirus, but concern is mounting as its health authorities reported the number of confirmed cases had jumped by 1459 to 5974.

The number of deaths from the flu-like virus rose by 26 to 132, almost all in the province of Hubei, the capital of which is the city of Wuhan, where the virus emerged last month in a wild animal market.

The central province of about 60 million people is under virtual lockdown.

“I was extremely worried that I was stuck there while the situation was changing very rapidly,” said Takeo Aoyama, who arrived in Tokyo on a chartered plane carrying 206 Japanese nationals out of Wuhan, with more flights planned.

“I feel really relieved,” Aoyama, an employee of Nippon Steel told reporters at the airport in the Japanese capital on Wednesday.

Concern is also growing over the impact of the virus on the world’s second- biggest economy, with airlines cutting flights to China and global companies restricting employee travel there.

In what could be a major step towards reining in the disease, scientists in Australia said they had developed a lab-grown version of the coronavirus, the first to be recreated outside China.

As infections spread and the number of cases rises, numerous countries are scrambling to get citizens out of Wuhan.

US government sources told Reuters a US charter plane had left Wuhan with 220 people aboard, with 50 diplomats and contractors among them.

Australia said it would help some citizens leave and then quarantine them on Christmas Island.

US officials said the White House was weighing whether to suspend flights to China in what would be a drastic measure to control the spread of the disease.

“All options for dealing with infectious disease spread have to be on the table, including travel restrictions,” said US Health Secretary Alex Azar.