The U.S. State Department warned Americans against traveling to China amid the outbreak of a mysterious new form of coronavirus that has triggered quarantines and lockdowns for tens of millions of people.
On Thursday night, the agency raised its travel alert level to four, the highest, telling citizens: “Do not travel.” It comes after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a global health emergency.
“Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the State Department said in its bulletin. “Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.”
What’s more, citizens living in China should consider leaving the country via “commercial means,” the agency said. The United States has already evacuated about 200 nationals from Wuhan via a chartered flight and is making plans to evacuate more people next week. Chinese regime officials have suspended air, road, and rail travel around Wuhan.
Those evacuated Americans were sent to a military base in Southern California, where they were placed under medical isolation. Officials have told news outlets that those individuals have shown no signs of the illness.
It comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a warning for all of China.
The virus has spread to about 20 other countries and territories, including six reported cases in the United States. On Thursday, the CDC confirmed the sixth case of coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, and it was the first case of person-to-person transmission in the United States.
The case involved the husband of an Illinois woman who was previously diagnosed and who had traveled recently to Wuhan. The husband, however, didn’t recently go to China, said the CDC.
The other cases involved people who had recently gone to Wuhan. Those coronavirus patients were found in Washington state, Arizona, California’s Orange County, and in Los Angeles, the agency said.
Hours after WHO’s declaration, Italy and Israel announced that they would suspend all flights coming from China. Russia also suspended most flights with China, and its government declared an emergency to close down its 2,500-mile border along the Far Eastern District.
Russia’s move came as its health officials confirmed two cases of the virus in the Siberian regions of Zabaykalye and Tyumen, according to the state-run TASS news agency. Both are Chinese nationals, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said.
“The Rospobrebnadzor [Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Well-being] services have identified two persons infected with coronavirus in Russia—in the Trans-Baikal Region and the Tyumen Region. They are under strict surveillance. They have been isolated, and necessary assistance has been provided to them. Both are Chinese citizens,” she said.
The spread of the coronavirus has placed around 60 million people under partial or full lockdown in several Chinese cities, namely in central Hubei Province. Other than the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and several other countries have announced they are working to fly their citizens out of Wuhan.