China resumed domestic flights in the Hubei province of the Coronavirus epicenter, except for the capital, Wuhan, to ease the region's lockout after a sharp drop in confirmed cases.
Hubei's capital, Wuhan, which bore the brunt of the malicious virus for over two months, would begin flight service on April 8.
China began resuming the blockade of Hubei Province, home to more than 56 million people, by resuming local transportation services on March 25, followed by relaxation of travel for people who tested negative for coronavirus.
The Chinese National Health Commission (NHC) said on Sunday that 45 new coronavirus cases, including one locally transmitted, were reported in the country on Saturday, while the pandemic death toll reached 3,300 with five new deaths.
The new domestic case was reported in Henan Province on Saturday, the NHC said. The five new deaths were all reported from the Hubei Province epicenter, increasing the death toll to 3,300.
With 44 newly imported cases, their number has increased to 693, the NHS said.
The total number of confirmed cases on the mainland reached 81,439 by the end of Saturday. These included 3,300 deceased, 2,691 patients still under treatment, and 75,448 others who were discharged after treatment.
A flight from Fuzhou Airlines left Yichang City on Sunday morning and marked the resumption of flights from the province.
Flight FU6779 with 64 passengers left the Three Gorges Airport in Yichang to Fuzhou, the capital of east China's Fujian Province, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
According to the Chinese Civil Aviation Authority (CAAC), with the exception of Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, all passenger and cargo flights on domestic flights via Hubei airports were resumed from Sunday.
The province, severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, lifted the exit restrictions on road traffic in all areas except Wuhan on March 25. All checkpoints at expressway exits and highways at national and provincial levels were reopened within two days.
Xu Zuoqiang, chairman and general manager of Three Gorges Airport, said the airport had undergone extensive disinfection and had staff training on disease control and prevention before flights resumed.
The airport has newly installed thermal imaging devices for checking the body temperature of people in the departure and arrival rooms. Isolation areas were also prepared to quarantine people tested with fever.
The CAAC's central and southern regional subsidiary announced that the airports in Hubei will have a total of 98 departures on Sunday.
Hubei is a central Chinese air traffic hub. All air traffic control units in the central and southern regions have worked together to ensure the safe and orderly resumption of Hubei civil aviation, according to the CAAC.