South African Airways (SAA) announced Friday it would suspend international flights until May 31 in response to government travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"In support of efforts by government to deal with this pandemic, and in the best interests of our crew, passengers and the public, we have decided to suspend all international flights until 31 May 2020," SAA Acting CEO, Zuks Ramasia said in a statement.
Ramasia said everyone, not just the government, must act to curb the spread of the virus.
He underlined that plane crews would be at risk had the flight ban been not imposed, and could potentially be trapped in foreign destinations amid increasing travel restrictions.
South Africa Airways will only provide services on its regional and domestic routes.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Sunday a number of drastic measures to reduce transmissions of the virus known as COVID-19, including the closure of borders to foreign nationals from high-risk countries including the U.S., U.K., China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain and Germany.
The number of virus infections known as COVID-19 in South Africa reached 202 as of Friday with no deaths so far.
The virus emerged in Wuhan, China last December, and has spread to at least 163 countries and territories. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a pandemic.
Out of more than 263,000 confirmed cases, the death toll now exceeds 11,000, and over 87,000 have recovered, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
Despite the rising number of cases, most who become infected suffer only mild symptoms and recover.