The Monday afternoon alert advises Americans to “reconsider travel to China due to novel coronavirus” and raised its travel advisory to three out of four. A level-four State Department warning calls on people to not travel at all to a country—usually reserved for countries in the midst of war or insecurity, such as Afghanistan, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Yemen.
An outbreak of a mysterious new strain of coronavirus has been centered around the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei Province. The agency warned: “Do not travel to Hubei province, China” or Wuhan.
“Chinese authorities have imposed strict travel restrictions in the area around Wuhan. Travelers should be aware that the Chinese government could prevent them from entering or exiting parts of Hubei province. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” according to the bulletin.
The State Department noted that if one travels to China, avoid contact with visibly sick people, avoid alive or dead animals, wash hands often with soap and water, and inform a healthcare provider ahead of time.
It comes after the agency announced it would charter a one-time flight from Wuhan to San Francisco to evacuate diplomats and interested private citizens amid the outbreak.
“The Department of State is making arrangements to relocate its personnel stationed at the U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan to the United States,” the agency’s statement said. “We anticipate that there will be limited capacity to transport private U.S. citizens on a reimbursable basis on a single flight leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport” on Tuesday, Jan. 28, said the statement.
First, the flight will have to make a stop at the international airport in Anchorage, Alaska, according to the governor’s office.
“Given Alaska’s proximity to Asia, we have been asked to assist our federal partners in this effort to facilitate travel out of China back to the United States to bring these U.S. citizens home,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said in a statement in announcing the move. “The State of Alaska, in combination with our local, federal, and Tribal partners, have been working closely to ensure the health and safety of all Alaskans while assisting with this request.”
So far, about five coronavirus patients have been confirmed in the United States. The latest ones were confirmed in Maricopa County, Arizona, and two in Southern California. In the Maricopa case, according to a statement released on Sunday by the Arizona Department of Health Services, the patient is “a member of the Arizona State University community who does not live in university housing.” The three people had recently traveled to Wuhan, officials said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed in news reports Monday that approximately 110 people in the United States have been tested for the virus.