On Saturday, March 14, US Vice President Mike Pence announced the US will extend its existing European coronavirus disease (COVID-19) travel ban to the UK and Ireland beginning 23:59 (local time) on Monday, March 16. The move notably comes after the US imposed a travel ban on 26 European countries in the Schengen Area for 30 days from Friday, March 13. Under the expanded travel restrictions, non-American nationals who have been in the Schengen Area, UK, or Ireland within the last 14 days will be prohibited from entering the US. American citizens and permanent residents will be exempted from the measures.
As of Saturday, over 2500 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the US, as well as 51 associated deaths. Over 1100 cases have been confirmed in the UK, as well as 21 associated deaths. Around 90 cases have been confirmed in Ireland, as well as one death.
Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected over the coming days and weeks.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.
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