State Department Raises China Travel Advisory to Highest Level Due to Coronavirus

Airline check-in staff wear face masks to protect against the spread of the 2019 nCoV coronavirus at Los Angeles International Airport on January 29, 2020. Photo: Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

On Thursday night, the State Department raised its travel advisory — a formal warning system designed to inform Americans of possible dangers abroad — for China to its highest level, due to the outbreak of coronavirus that spread originally from the city of Wuhan. “Do not travel to China,” the level-four advisory states. “Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice. Commercial carriers have reduced or suspended routes to and from China.” The warning was issued on the same day that the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency.

For Americans already in China, the State Department advises that they “consider departing using commercial means.” Nonessential U.S. government personnel have also been asked to “defer travel;” last week, State ordered the departure of nonemergency U.S. personnel from the inland city of Wuhan.

Within the world’s most populous nation, authorities have restricted air, car, and rail travel in the area surrounding Wuhan — resulting in the lockdown of an estimated 60 million people. As of publication, 213 people have died in China, and almost 10,000 have contracted the virus. Across the globe, there have been over 100 cases reported in more than 20 countries; on Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of person-to-person transmission in the U.S.

Examining the 13 other nations with level-four travel advisories reveals the high degree of concern with which the State Department is treating coronavirus: China is joined on the list by Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen. Reasons for barring travel include arbitrary arrest, armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, kidnapping, landmines, long-term detention, and terrorism. Only Somalia, Venezuela, and Yemen are included with China as potential health risks.

State Dept. Issues ‘Do Not Travel’ Warning to China