US authorities increased checks and closed certain lanes on the Mexican border on Friday, August 21, in order to limit non-essential travel amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. The announcement comes after authorities extended land border closures with Canada and Mexico for another 30 days until September 21. The restriction has been in place since March; nevertheless, US citizens and residents are still allowed to cross the border into the US. The border closure does not apply to air travel or trade.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention lifted the global advisory recommending all international travel to be avoided due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on August 6. However, the CDC also issued on August 6 multiple warnings for countries considered to present a high risk of COVID-19 infections, as authorities return to the previous system providing country-specific travel information. While the global advisory against all non-essential international travel was lifted by the CDC, most countries were individually placed under a Level 3 advisory, which recommends that all non-essential travel should be avoided. A few countries with significantly lower rates of infection, such as New Zealand, Thailand, and Fiji, were placed under Level 1 advisory. All country-specific travel notices can be accessed via the CDC website.
The US Department of State also updated country-travel specific alerts. "Level 3: Reconsider Travel" advisories are in place for destinations including the UK, the EU, the Philippines, and Australia. "Level Four: Do Not Travel" advisories are also in place for 30 countries including India and Russia.
Numerous US states have imposed quarantine orders on arrivals from other states with high rates of COVID-19 infection, as well as other measures such as bans on large public events and gatherings.
As of August 21, there have been 5,622,540 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US with 175,363 associated fatalities. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
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). Since then, human-to-human transmission of the virus has been confirmed.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, dry cough, and tiredness. Some patients may experience other symptoms such as body pains, nasal congestion, headache, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, or a rash on skin or discoloration of fingers or toes. These symptoms (in most cases mild) appear gradually. Generally, most patients (around 80 percent) recover from the disease without being hospitalized.
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, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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