In view of the ongoing worldwide outbreak of a respiratory illness Wuhan coronavirus or COVID-19, the US government has issued an advisory to its citizens not to visit Asia-Pacific region and avoid China in particular.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is learnt to have been caused by a coronavirus, identified as the source of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China and reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring, it said before recommending as follows:
US citizens are urged to:
- The Department of State's Travel Advisory for China is currently a Level 4- Do Not Travel to China due to novel coronavirus.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- If you decide to travel to China discuss your travel with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with underlying health issues may be at risk for more severe disease.
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Follow local authority instructions.
- Closely monitor Travel.state.gov and CDC.gov for important information.
Before you travel
Due to the current public health situation, many countries have begun implementing strict screening procedures in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.
- Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in Hubei province, China in the previous 14 days may be subject to up to 14 days of quarantine.
- Any U.S. citizen returning to the United States who has been in the rest of mainland China within the previous 14 days may undergo a health screening and possible self-quarantine.
- Please read these Department of Homeland Security supplemental instructions for further details.
- U.S. citizens are encouraged to monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities. You may also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- If you travel, you should enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive updates.
Presidential Proclamation on Novel Coronavirus
Citing January 31 President Donald Trump's proclamation barring entry to the United States of most foreign nationals who traveled to China within the past 14 days, it also said US citizens should reconsider travel by cruise ship to or within East Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region. Due to the current public health situation, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it noted.
"This is a dynamic situation and U.S. citizens traveling by ship may be impacted by travel restrictions affecting their itineraries or ability to disembark, or may be subject to quarantine procedures implemented by the local authorities. While the U.S. government has successfully evacuated hundreds of our citizens in the previous weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities," it warned.
Accordingly, on January 30, the Department updated the Travel Advisory for China from a Level 3: Reconsider Travel to Level 4: Do Not Travel due to COVID-19 first identified in Wuhan, China. In an effort to contain the COVID-19, the Chinese authorities have suspended air and rail travel in the area around Wuhan. On January 31, the Department of State ordered the departure of all family members of U.S. personnel under age 21 from China. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Hubei province.
"We strongly urge U.S. citizens in Hubei Province, China, to contact concerned family members in the United States and elsewhere to advise them of your safety," it said in bold.
If you need assistance in China
- U.S. citizens in Hubei Province, China who need emergency assistance can contact the U.S. Embassy at CoronaVirusEmergencyUSC@state.gov.
- To provide us with information about a U.S. citizen who is in Hubei Province, you may:
- o Contact the Department of State at CoronaVirusEmergencyUSC@state.gov.
- Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).