BY NATHANIEL WEIXEL – 01/27/20 05:43 PM EST
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest travel warning on Monday, urging Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China because of the outbreak of coronavirus.
At the same time, the State Department raised its China travel warning to level 3, urging U.S. citizens to “reconsider travel” to the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The State Department also raised the travel warning for the entire Hubei province to level 4, advising against any travel there, noting that U.S. officials have “limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens” in the province.
Chinese officials have locked down many cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan, stopping air and rail transportation in and out. The U.S. government is planning to evacuate citizens from Wuhan on Monday evening, with priority given to those who are most at risk from the coronavirus.
The warning said travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice, and should be aware that the Chinese government could prevent them from entering or exiting parts of Hubei province.
At least 81 people in China have died from the virus, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan.
The CDC warning says those who must travel to China should avoid all contact with sick people, animal markets and products that come from animals. The agency said travelers should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Anyone who must travel should talk with a health-care provider first, the CDC said, especially older adults and travelers with underlying health issues who may be at risk for more severe effects of the disease.
The warning advises people who have traveled to China and returned in the last 14 days to immediately seek medical care if they feel sick with a fever or cough, or if they have difficulty breathing.
There have been five confirmed cases of the virus in the U.S., and while officials expect that number to rise, the virus is not actively spreading and the risk in the U.S. remains low.