Is it safe to travel to the USA? What you need to know during the coronavirus outbreak

The United Staes has recorded over 1,000 positive cases of Covid-19 (Getty Images)The United Staes has recorded over 1,000 positive cases of Covid-19 (Getty Images)
The United Staes has recorded over 1,000 positive cases of Covid-19 (Getty Images)

The US has recorded over 1,000 positive cases of Covid-19, with New York, California and Washington among the worst hit.

The outbreak of the novel strain of coronavirus has seen a handful of states declare emergencies, while Democratic presidential candidates have both been forced to cancel campaign rallies.

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The New York City suburb of New Rochelle has been sealed off, placed under a 1 mile containment zone after it recorded a cluster of cases. The National Guard have been sent into the neighbourhood to supply food to residents and scrub public places in an attempt to contain the disease.

In California, the Coachella Festival, which was due to take place in April, was postponed until October due to the outbreak. The state has recorded three deaths.

Washington state has arguably been the worst hit area in the States, recording 24 deaths, most of which have been linked to a care home on the outskirts of Seattle.

Thirty deaths have been recorded in the United States in total.

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The outbreak will be of concern to the thousands of UK tourists who visit the United States every year.

What's the 'official' travel advice?

“There is an ongoing outbreak of coronavirus,” say the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). “The virus originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province but cases have been confirmed in other parts of China and in some countries, including the United States.

“You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the local authorities. Given the fast changing situation, you should check the latest entry requirements for your destination and keep in touch with your airline, cruise line or tour operator before you travel.

“With effect from 2 February, the US Government will not permit entry to the USA of any foreign nationals who have visited China 14 days or less prior to their travel to the USA.

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“More information for travellers to the USA can be found on the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website, including information about cases in the United States.

“Further advice is available from Public Health England, and the TravelHealthPro website.”

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

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As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But.similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Should I avoid public places?

Most people who feel well can continue to go to work, school and public places and should only stay at home and self isolate if advised by a medical professional or the coronavirus service.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

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Don’t go to your GP but instead call NHS 111 or look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.

When to call NHS 111

NHS 111 should be used if you feel unwell with coronavirus symptoms, have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus.