US increases travel alert – advises avoiding all of China

Health Alert

BEIJING (AP) — U.S. health officials have changed their travel advice to American travelers planning to go to China.

Previously, the agency advised travelers to avoid any non-essential travel to Wuhan or other parts of Hubei province, the center of an international outbreak of a new viral illness. But that didn’t extend to the rest of China.

On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its online advisory to tell travelers to avoid non-essential travel to any part of China.

The virus has sickened thousands of people mostly in China and caused dozens of deaths. The outbreak was first identified in the city of Wuhan in central China.

Also, the U.S. State Department says it has ordered its employees in Wuhan to leave the city and is offering seats on a charter flight to U.S. citizens who also want to leave.

State department officials said Monday in a statement that the flight to Ontario, California, is expected to leave Wuhan on Wednesday morning local time. Priority will be given to citizens who are most at risk of contracting the virus

Alaska health officials say the flight is expected to make a refueling stop at Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage and that about 240 Americans are expected to be aboard.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services says the passengers will be screened for the illness before they leave Wuhan by U.S. and Chinese health officials. Anyone with symptoms will not be allowed to board the aircraft.

The department in a statement says they will be screened again at Anchorage.

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