Go or No Go? US Updates Travel Advisories Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

WASHINGTON – As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe and countries are reporting new confirmed cases the United States is closely monitoring and updating travel advisories.

The State Department says when it comes to issuing a travel alert for Americans traveling abroad it takes into account health risks including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that disrupts a countrys medical infrastructure as well as the issuance of a travel notice by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There are four travel advisory levels: Level 4 do not travel; Level 3 reconsider travel; Level 2 exercise increased caution; and Level 1 exercise normal precautions.

Friday the U.S. travel advisory on Italy a popular destination was increased to Level 3 reconsider travel. It was the second update within a week after separate cases were confirmed in Tuscany and Sicily. Sustained community spread of the coronavirus was cited for this alert.

Italy and Iran are among the countries with the largest numbers of coronavirus cases outside Asia.

On Wednesday the State Department raised the travel advisory to level 3 reconsider travel on South Korea. The change comes after the CDC issued a Level 3 travel warning for people to avoid non-essential travel for South Korea and after a U.S. soldier there tested positive for coronavirus.

The U.S. is asking travelers who spent time in South Korea during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever cough or difficulty breathing to seek medical advice and also to avoid contact with others.

Also on Wednesday while maintaining a Level 4 warning or ‘do not travel’ to Iran (due to the risk of kidnapping and the arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens) the State Department updated information amid more confirmed cases of coronavirus and deaths in that country.

Several countries have closed their borders with Iran and/or suspended air traffic to and from Iran. As a result commercial travel to and from Iran may become severely limited with little or no notice said the State Department.

The U.S. has advised against travel to Mongolia a country that neighbors China due to travel and transport restrictions. The State Department has also allowed for the voluntary departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees and their family members.

The update comes after Mongolia’s government took several precautionary measures including closing schools until March 30 the mandatory shutdown of restaurants and bars at midnight and the prohibition of all public events such as concerts. The country’s president Battulga Khaltmaa is also in quarantine after returning from a trip to China.

On February 22 the travel advisory on Japan was raised to Level 2 exercise increased caution after coronavirus infections on a cruise ship and an increase in cases confirmed in the country.

Thursday Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe requested all schools to close from March 2 until the end of spring break in a bid to stop coronavirus spreading.

In another drastic move Japans northern island of Hokkaido which has seen the largest number of coronavirus cases in the country declared a state of emergency on late Friday. The island is known for its volcanoes natural hot springs and ski resorts.

And as for whether the Summer Olympics in Tokyo will be canceled due to the coronavirus the International Olympics Committee said a decision will be made around May.

The U.S. government already has a check-list for potential travelers to the sporting event set to open July 24 in Tokyo.

The following is a breakdown of travel advisories on countries and areas as of Friday according to the State Department.

Level 4: Do Not Travel

COVID-19 outbreak related updates: China Iran.

Other non-coronavirus risk indicators including terrorism kidnapping and armed conflict: Iraq Mali Central African Republic Venezuela Yemen South Sudan Burkina Faso Syria Somalia Afghanistan North Korea Libya North Korea Afghan.

Level 3: Reconsider Travel

COVID-19 outbreak related updates: South Korea Mongolia.

Other non-coronavirus risk indicators including terrorism kidnapping and armed conflict: Pakistan Burundi Democratic Republic of the Congo Niger Nigeria Lebanon Guinea-Bissau Chad Sudan Honduras Haiti Nicaragua.

Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

COVID-19 outbreak related updates: Italy Japan Hong Kong Macau.

Other non-coronavirus risk indicators including crimes civil unrest and arbitrary enforcement of local laws: Ukraine Guinea Russia Serbia Timore-Leste Brazil Costa Rica Bolivia Nepal Azerbaijan Indonesia Mauritania South Africa Belgium Mexico Sierra Leone Tanzania The Bahamas Tajikistan Dominica Cuba Chile Ecuador Peru Spain Papua New Guinea Myanmar (Burma) El Salvador Saudi Arabia Turkey Malawi Ethiopia Cote dlvoire Uruguay Netherlands Madagascar Egypt Denmark Bosnia and Herzegovina Sri Lanka Germany Kosovo Guyana Zimbabwe Maldives United Kingdom Republic of the Congo Jamaica Dominican Republic Uganda Trinidad and Tobago Philippines Kenya Colombia Cameroon Bangladesh Algeria Morocco France India Guatemala Turks and Caicos Islands Eritrea Antarctica Belize Tunisia Israel Jordan.

Level 1: Exercise Normal Precautions

Thailand Palau Solomon Island Micronesia Luxembourg Australia Slovenia Montenegro Poland Croatia Canada The Kyrgyz Republic Samoa Armenia Zambia Namibia Lesotho Eswatini Botswana North Macedonia Seychelles Mauritius Fiji The Gambia Rwanda Equatorial Guinea Cabo Verde Bulgaria Austria New Zealand French Guiana Djibouti Tonga Kiribati Ireland Brunei Belarus Suriname Switzerland Liechtenstein Laos Finland Norway Andorra Hungary Cyprus Romania Estonia Slovakia Latvia Moldova Ghana Albania Greece Malta Czech Republic Iceland Lithuania Portugal Benin Togo United Arab Emirates Qatar Oman Kuwait Bahrain Saint Kitts and Nevis British Virgin Islands Anguilla Panama Comoros Turkmenistan Saint Lucia Malaysia Georgia Angola Kazakhstan Nauru New Caledonia Sweden French Polynesia Vanuatu Barbados Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Montserrat Antigua and Barbuda Tuvalu Grenada French West Indies Mozambique Bhutan Paraguay Sao Tome and Principle Gabon Sint Maarten Curacao Cayman Islands Bonaire Sint Eustatius and Saba Bermuda Aruba Liberia Cambodia Vietnam Taiwan Singapore Uzbekistan Marshall Islands Argentina.

Source: Voice of America

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