THE United States told its citizens on Thursday night “do not travel” to China, raising its advisory status to the highest level of alert because of the coronavirus epidemic.
(L) A local resident using a drone sprays disinfectant at a village in Pingdingshan, in China’s central Henan province during the virus outbreak in Hubei’s city of Wuhan. Students are checked by body thermal scanners as a precautionary measure against the spread of a new virus at a school in Manila, Philippines on Friday. (AP/PTI/AFP)
The State Department issued a level four warning -- up from urging Americans to “reconsider” travel to China -- and said any nationals in China now “should consider departing using commercial means.”
In the travel advisory, the department cited the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision that the “rapidly spreading outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
The World Health Organization’s (WHO) declared the global emergency earlier on Friday over the new coronavirus, which originated in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province, as China reported the death toll had climbed to 213 with nearly 10,000 infections.
The UN health agency based in Geneva had initially downplayed the threat posed by the disease, but revised its risk assessment after crisis talks.
In the updated travel advisory, the State Department recalled that last week it had ordered the departure of all non-emergency US personnel and their family members from Wuhan.
“The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Hubei province,” the advisory said.
The US reported its first case on Thursday of a person catching the virus from another person on American soil -- a man in Chicago who contracted the illness from his wife, who had travelled to Wuhan.
Many other countries have also urged their citizens not to visit China, while some have banned entry for travellers from Wuhan.
Israel barred all flights from China, while Russia said it was closing its far eastern border with China over the outbreak.
More than 6,000 tourists were temporarily put under lockdown aboard a cruise ship at an Italian port after two Chinese passengers were isolated over fears they could be carrying the virus.
They later tested negative for the illness. UK confirms first 2 cases of coronavirus: THE UK Government on Friday confirmed the first two cases of the deadly coronavirus in the country and said the patients were members of the same family who were receiving specialist care.
The UK’s Department for Health stressed that the National Health Service (NHS) is “well-prepared” to deal with the virus, which originated in Wuhan in China and has claimed 213 lives there. “We can confirm that two patients in England, who are members of the same family, have tested positive for coronavirus,” said Chris Whitty, the UK’s Chief Medical Officer.
“The patients are receiving specialist NHS care, and we are using tried and tested infection control procedures to prevent further spread of the virus. The NHS is extremely well-prepared and used to managing infections and we are already working rapidly to identify any contacts the patients had, to prevent further spread,” he said.
The CMO said that his team has been preparing for UK cases of novel coronavirus and that there are “robust” infection control measures in place to respond immediately. “We are continuing to work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the international community as the outbreak in China develops to ensure we are ready for all eventualities,” he added.