US imposes Level-4 travel restrictions on Iran, Italy and South Korea

South Korea becomes the second country to report highest number of Coronavirus cases after China; Iran reports 205 fresh cases in less than 24 hours

The United States of America imposed a fresh set of travel restrictions on its citizens barring them from travelling to Iran, Italy and South Korea following a drastic spike of fatal coronavirus cases in these countries. US President Donald Trump announced the restrictions following the first death of a US citizen due to COVID-19 in the country.

In less than 24-hours, South Korea saw an additional 376 fresh cases of the virus taking the total number of COVID-19 infected cases to 3,526, thus becoming the country, other than China, to record the highest number of coronavirus cases. While health authorities in Iran announced 205 fresh cases of coronavirus in last 24 hours the Italian counterpart said the number of confirmed cases has crossed 1,000 within a day.

Travel restrictions ban those coming from infected countries

Coronavirus status as of 29 February, 2020
Coronavirus status as of 29 February, 2020 GISAID

Addressing a press conference, Trump, who was accompanied with a team of officials including Vice President Mike Pence, said that apart from imposing travel restrictions upon those flying to and from the affected countries, he was also considering closing the borders with Mexico to contain the spread.

"It's a tough one but a lot of progress has been made. Our country is prepared for any circumstance. This is not a border that seems to be much of a problem right now. We're thinking about all borders," Trump said while addressing the reporters.

Pence while urging the US citizens to drop their travel to Italy and South Korea said that those who were in these countries for the past 14 days have been banned from entering the US. Previously, the US had imposed travel restriction to China.

"First, the president authorized action today to add additional travel restrictions on Iran. Iran is already under a travel ban, but we're are expanding existing travel restrictions to include any foreign national who has visited Iran within the last 14 days," he said.

"We are going to increase, to the highest-level advisory — which is Level 4 — advising Americans: Do not travel to specific regions in Italy and South Korea. We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy and the areas in South Korea that are most affected by the coronavirus," Pence added further.

South Korea urges US To relax the restrictions

Even as South Korea became the second country to report the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, after China, it requested the US to "refrain from taking excessive measures" after US President Donald Trump imposed fresh travel restrictions on the country. According to the statement issued by the South Korean foreign ministry, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha spoke to the US Deputy Secretary of State, Stephen Biegun over the phone and made the request.

The minister further said that even though the virus is spreading in the country, it is based in a specific region even as the government is ensuring its further spread. The US State Department upgraded the travel advisory for South Korea's Daegu to Level 4, the most severe grade, after 376 fresh cases of the virus were reported in 24-hours. Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that 90 percent of the fresh cases were from Daegu, the epicentre of the COVID-19 in South Korea.

Related topics : Coronavirus