China will arrange temporary flights to the UK on Thursday to bring back minor Chinese students in the UK eager to return to China amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as more and more families of these students are worried about the epidemic situation in the UK.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry is coordinating with the Civil Aviation Administration and other departments to arrange extra flights to the UK on Thursday to help Chinese students facing difficulties to return to China, spokesperson Hua Chunying said at Wednesday's daily routine press conference.  
There are 220,000 Chinese students studying in the UK, including 15,000 elementary school students mostly living with British families, Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, said in an interview on Tuesday. 
The 15,000 Chinese students aged 10-17 in the UK are the largest number among all foreign countries, Liu said in an earlier interview on March 18. reported at least 166 families of the minor Chinese students in the UK have submitted a request to the Chinese embassy as many local British families have refused to host minor Chinese students.
The UK reported 29,474 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection with the death toll from the virus reaching 2,352 as of press time Wednesday. 
Amid the worsening pandemic situation worldwide, a majority of airlines around the world have cut capacity. Of the 153 carriers, 72 have announced capacity cuts of 100 percent. 
China's aviation industry regulator also slashed international flights to 108 a week.
About 1.6 million Chinese students study abroad, of which about 1.42 million are currently overseas. As of Tuesday, 35 students have been confirmed with COVID-19 and are receiving treatment at local hospitals, a China's Ministry of Education official said at a press briefing on Tuesday. 
A number of overseas students that the Global Times reached said they are eager to return to China as they are worried about the pandemic situation in the countries where they stay. 
A staff at the Chinese embassy in Italy told the Global Times on Wednesday that they have received many calls from Chinese students inquiring about government fight arrangements for returning to China, especially when the situation was serious in Italy. 
Now as the situation in Italy is getting better and the embassy has provided medical materials to the Chinese based in Italy, the calls are not as many as the previous weeks. 
Bo, a first-year college student in Barcelona, told the Global Times that he and many of his friends hope that the government could take them back home. "We have been talking about such a possibility almost every day," he said.
Juan Juan, a Beijing-based mother of a high school student currently staying with a host family in London, expressed her strong wish for her son's return, but they have to wait for a long time to get a ticket due to the high demand.
On Monday, about 200 overseas Chinese students took a designated flight with the Chinese Embassy's help to return to China after being stuck at a transfer point in Ethiopia for two nights. 

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