State Department warns Americans to reconsider traveling abroad due to coronavirus

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A woman wears a mask as she stands on an escalator inside Central train station, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 8, 2020. Italy announced a sweeping quarantine early Sunday for its northern regions, igniting travel chaos as it restricted the movements of a quarter of its population in a bid to halt the new coronavirus' relentless march across Europe.

The U.S. State Department warned Americans late Wednesday to avoid traveling abroad, in response to a coronavirus outbreak that’s reached pandemic status.

Also Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised U.S. citizens to avoid travel to much of Europe, where the coronavirus has become more widespread than anywhere but China.

The warnings by the State Department and the CDC followed the earlier announcement by President Donald Trump on national television restricting travel from Europe for 30 days starting Friday.

The State Department issued a global travel warning of Level 3 — “reconsider travel” — one level below its strongest warning. The CDC advised Americans to “avoid nonessential travel” to Europe — a Level 3, its highest warning.

The CDC warning covers essentially the entire continent — 29 countries and principalities — including some of the most popular destinations for U.S travelers, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.

Trump signed a presidential proclamation late Wednesday barring the entry of foreign nationals who have been to most European countries in the past 14 days.

The restriction covers the Schengen Area, which consists of 27 countries that have allowed unrestricted travel across their borders since 1985.

The restriction will not apply to legal permanent residents and immediate family members of U.S. citizens. The restriction will also not apply to the United Kingdom.

“While these new travel restrictions will be disruptive to some travelers,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement, “this decisive action is needed to protect the American public from further exposure to the potentially deadly coronavirus.”

Wednesday’s travel advisories were the most significant issued by the Trump administration since Feb. 2, when the State Department advised Americans to not travel to China, at Level 4, its highest warning.

While the coronavirus outbreak originated in Wuhan, China, and China still has more confirmed cases and deaths than any other country, the virus is rapidly spreading in Europe and the United States.

Earlier Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic for the coronavirus.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY

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