Countries including the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia and France have either issued travel advisories for China or raised their warning levels in a bid to reduce the spread of the country’s deadly new strain of coronavirus nCoV-2019. The advisories come as Australia, Malaysia and France confirmed their first cases of infections.
There are now more than two dozen confirmed cases of people with the new coronavirus overseas.
The heightened alerts contrast with advice issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), which recommended “usual precautions” as of Friday.
Australian health officials have confirmed four cases of coronavirus infections as of Saturday night.
These include one man from Wuhan that flew to Melbourne, Victoria in southeastern Australia, and three other men in Sydney, New South Wales in the east.
The Melbourne-based patient “has pneumonia and is in a stable condition,” according to a statement from Australia’s Department of Health. The man is in his 50s and exhibited no symptoms on his flight, the Guardian newspaper reported, citing Victoria’s state health minister, Jenny Mikakos.
The three men in Sydney, aged 35 to 53, arrived on flights from China and “had some connection to Wuhan or Hebei province,” Brad Hazzard, New South Wales state minister for health, said at a press conference Saturday evening.
On its travel advisory website, the Australian government recommended against travel to Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in light of severe travel restrictions some of its cities have placed on residents, effectively quarantining millions.
A woman and her two grandchildren, all of whom are Chinese nationals from Wuhan, Hubei province, the center of the epidemic, tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus Saturday, Bloomberg reported, citing Dzulkefly Ahmad, the country’s health minister.
According to the report, the trio had travelled to Malaysia from Singapore, whose health authorities notified their Malaysian officials. The patients are all related to a 66-year-old man and his son who had tested positive for the virus in Singapore, Bloomberg reported.
The French Minister of Health Agnès Buzyn confirmed Friday local time three cases of coronavirus infection in France, one in the southern city of Bordeaux and two in Paris. They are the first confirmed cases in Europe.
The Bordeaux patient, aged 48 and of Chinese origin, returned from China after spending time in Wuhan, and is currently quarantined in Bordeaux, French news outlet Le Figaro reported (link in French), quoting Buzyn.
Of the two Parisian cases, one had travelled to China, while the other is the individual’s “close relative,” the report said.
“There are likely other cases in Europe,” Buzyn said Friday, according to the report. On Tuesday, the health minister had said that the risk of the nCoV-2019 virus arriving in France was low, but not “out of the question.” At the time, two other suspected cases in France were confirmed to be negative.
The incubation period of the coronavirus is around seven days, but can range from two to 12 days, the minister said Friday, according to the report.
In a statement (link in French) posted Friday, France’s Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs recommended travelers postpone trips to the province of Hubei, also citing travel bans in the region.
The Nepali health department confirmed Saturday that a 32-year-old Nepali student that returned from Wuhan has been diagnosed with the virus, becoming the first case reported in South Asia.
Local medical professionals say the patient has already recovered and has been discharged, but those with whom the person had come into contact with are under observation.
On Saturday, Global Affairs Canada advised the public to “avoid all non-essential travel,” to the province of Hubei, including the cities of Wuhan, Huanggang and Ezhou, “due to the imposition of heavy travel restrictions in order to limit the spread of a novel coronavirus.” The advisory is the second-highest of four possible warning levels it may issue.
Canadian Minister of Health Patty Hajdu told Canadian media Thursday that “five or six” people in the country are under observation for potential infection. The individuals include people in Vancouver and Quebec. One suspected person has already been cleared of having the virus.
After diagnosing its first case in Washington state Wednesday, the U.S. Department of State raised its advisory level for Hubei province to “Do not travel” Thursday, the highest possible warning level.
“On January 23, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members,” the department said in its advisory. “The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Hubei province.”
The U.S. confirmed Friday a second case of the new coronavirus in Chicago.
In a Thursday update, the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office advised against all but essential travel to Wuhan city.
British universities have warned students considering traveling home to China to celebrate the Lunar New Year run the risk of being quarantined upon return, the Guardian reported Saturday.
The New Zealand government has advised travelers to avoid nonessential travel to Wuhan.
The travel warnings issued by individual countries contrast with that from the WHO, which, as of Friday, suggested travelers “practice usual precautions.”
A WHO stated Thursday that Chinese authorities had presented evidence of “fourth-generation (coronavirus) cases in Wuhan,” raising concerns that the virus is more contagious than initially thought. A fourth-generation infection refers to how many times a disease has been passed on between individuals.
Nevertheless, it is not yet a global crisis, the emergency committee of the organization announced Thursday after a two-day teleconference with members and advisers in Geneva.
In China, the virus has infected 1,370 and killed 41 people as of Saturday afternoon, according to Caixin’s calculations based on official releases.
Follow Caixin Global’s latest updates on the Wuhan coronavirus here.
Contact reporter Dave Yin (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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