Reuters and other news outlets are reporting that travelers entering the United States will face new protocols as cases of novel coronavirus grow around the world.
The US is expanding travel restrictions from Iran and heightening a travel advisory for certain regions of South Korea and Italy, Vice President Mike Pence said.
Meanwhile, President Trump in a tweet announced new screening procedures for people traveling from “high-risk countries.”
Travelers from Italy and South Korea would face additional screening, Trump and top officials told a White House news briefing, warning Americans against traveling to coronavirus-affected regions in both countries.
Pence said an entry ban on travelers from Iran would be expanded to include any foreign nationals who have visited Iran in the last 14 days.
The United States may also restrict travel on its southern border with Mexico, officials said. However, they encouraged Americans to travel around the country, including to states that have recorded some of America’s now more than 100 cases.
The outbreak is disrupting flight demand and many airlines have suspended or modified services in response. The White House held a call this week with airlines to discuss new travel restrictions.
American Airlines Inc said earlier this week that it was suspending all U.S. flights to Milan.
Meanwhile, a cruise ship carrying some 2,500 passengers, en route from Hawaii to San Francisco, was held off the coast for coronavirus screening. Two U.S. coronavirus cases, including the first U.S. patient to die outside Washington state, have suspected links to the ship. At least 20 people had fallen ill and will be tested for the virus.
China remains the worst-hit country overall, with deaths surpassing 3,000 and confirmed cases topping 80,000. President Xi Jinping on Thursday canceled a planned state visit to Japan. But the epidemic is now slowing in China, while other countries are seeing outbreaks grow rapidly. In South Korea, mass testing has turned up more than 6,000 cases; the virus has caused more than 40 deaths there. Italy has confirmed more than 3,000 cases, along with more than 100 deaths.
The full extent of the outbreak remains hard to ascertain, in part because of political considerations. Hospital data obtained by The Washington Post suggests that Iran, which has reported 107 deaths, may be vastly underestimating the epidemic’s impact. North Korea, another authoritarian state, has released little information about possible cases.