The American and British governments on Friday urged travelers to avoid the city of Wuhan and the surrounding area amid growing signs that the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus is worsening.
The American Embassy in Beijing advised travelers from the United States to avoid Hubei Province, where Wuhan is the capital. It said the State Department had already ordered nonemergency government personnel to leave the city. It further warned that the Chinese government might prevent travelers from arriving or leaving.
The notice from the State Department was a Level 4 advisory, the sternest warning the United States government issues regarding travel. Other Level 4 warnings issued by the State Department include travel to Syria, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iraq, Venezuela and Yemen, among other places.
The warning is a step up from Washington’s earlier cautions. Just a day before, the American government had been advising travelers to “exercise extreme caution” when traveling to the Wuhan area.
The British government in a notice dated Thursday similarly advised against all but essential travel to Wuhan.
The warnings came as the Chinese government on Thursday began widening travel restrictions to cities surrounding Wuhan. The tougher restrictions apply to cities including Huanggang, Ezhou, Chibi and Zhejiang, affecting millions more people. The Hubei government has imposed some of its own travel restrictions across the province.
Reporting was contributed by Chris Buckley, Javier Hernández, Vivian Wang, Austin Ramzy, Elaine Yu, Tiffany May, Russell Goldman, Gillian Wong, Paulina Villegas, Steven Lee Myers, Denise Grady, Karen Zraick, Roni Caryn Rabin, Carl Zimmer and Rick Gladstone. Amber Wang, Albee Zhang, Claire Fu, Elsie Chen, Yiwei Wang and Zoe Mou contributed research.