US health officials: Avoid nonessential travel to China

No person-to-person spread of coronavirus detected in US, says health authority

Beyza Binnur Donmez   | 28.01.2020
US health officials: Avoid nonessential travel to China


U.S. health officials issued a travel warning Tuesday against China for an outbreak for the deadly coronavirus.

"On January 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued updated travel guidance for China, recommending that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to all of the country (Level 3 Travel Health Notice)," the CDC said in a statement.

It said the warning is in response to an ongoing outbreak of the novel coronavirus spreading between people in many parts of China, adding the Chinese health officials have reported thousands of coronavirus cases, as well as severe illness including deaths.

The CDC said although several travel-associated cases of the coronavirus have been identified in other countries, including the U.S., no community spread with this virus has been reported outside China.

"In the United States, there have been 5 cases of 2019-nCoV detected in travelers returning from Wuhan," the CDC said. It said based on current information, the immediate health risk from the virus to the general American public is "considered low" for now.

"No person-to-person spread has been detected in the United States at this time and this virus is NOT spreading in the community," it added.

On Thursday, the State Department State issued a similar travel warning, urging Americans to "avoid nonessential travel" with a level 3 alert.

At a news conference, top U.S. health officials said Tuesday the Trump administration is expanding screening for the virus from five to 20 airports due to raging coronavirus in China is a "potentially very serious public health threat."

"This is a major public health issue, and we need the best public health people in the world right now [to respond]," Health Secretary Alex Azar said, referring to China's continued refusal of help from American experts.

However, Azar noted that China's overall response has been "more productive and cooperative" than their response during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003, which killed more than 770 people around the world after originating from China.

Officials also showed bets as "the most likely reason" why virus jumped to humans, adding research continues to look if there is a second vehicle.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement that China has agreed to allow international experts into the country "as soon as possible" to overcome the virus. No further information has been shared yet about if these experts will include the CDC officials.

The respiratory illness, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has since spread to 30 provinces in the country. 

China has so far recorded 106 deaths from the mystery virus with pneumonia-like symptoms. More than 4,500 people are infected.

Tens of cases have been reported in Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Thailand, the U.S., Singapore, France, Malaysia, Australia, and Vietnam.

Chinese authorities on Sunday announced plans to extend the Lunar New Year holiday, which was originally set to end Jan. 30, in a bid to reduce mass gatherings and to prevent further spread of the disease.

Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide, and many airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.

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