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US tells Americans not to travel to China because of virus

John Harney
Bloomberg

The U.S. State Department on Thursday night warned Americans not to travel to China because of the spreading coronavirus outbreak.

The new travel advisory was issued hours after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global health emergency.

“Those currently in China should consider departing using commercial means,” the department said in the advisory.

China reported Monday a sharp rise in the number of people infected with a new coronavirus, including the first cases in the capital.

Confirmed cases in China jumped to 9,692, the National Health Commission reported Friday, up from about 7,700 just a day earlier, and the death toll there has risen to at least 213.

Hours before the advisory was released, U.S. health officials reported the first case of human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus, in a woman who traveled to China and then infected her husband. India documented its first case on Thursday, while Russia closed its land border with China to travelers.

Earlier Thursday, President Donald Trump wrote about efforts to combat the infection in a Twitter post. “Working closely with China and others on Coronavirus outbreak. Only 5 people in U.S., all in good recovery,” he said.

In a statement late Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham announced that a coronavirus task force would be led by the administration’s Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, and include other figures, including the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Robert Redfield, as well as National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien.

“The task force will lead the administration’s efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information,” Grisham said in the statement. The group has been meeting daily since Monday, she added.

The White House said Wednesday it would send CDC experts to China to help respond to the outbreak.

–With assistance from Josh Wingrove.