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UPDATE 1-Air China cancels flights to Greece up to March 18

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ATHENS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Air China will cancel flights to Athens, Greece, from Feb. 17 to March 18 as a precaution to stem the coronavirus outbreak, an Air China company official in Greece said on Wednesday.

"The reason is public safety because of the coronavirus and there are operational reasons as well," an officer at the airline's Athens office said.

Air China currently flies to Athens from Beijing three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

So far there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Greece but health authorities are on full alert.

The World Health Organization has likened the epidemic's threat to terrorism and one expert said that while it may be peaking in China, this was not the case beyond.

(Reporting By George Georgiopoulos. Editing by Jane Merriman)