The US State Department issues its most serious level of warning against international travel.
The US State Department on Thursday issued a level 4 advisory -- its most serious warning -- due to the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Americans are being advised not to travel abroad, and people who are currently in other countries are encouraged to return to the US or prepare to shelter in place.
"The Department of State advises US citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19," reads the advisory notice. "If you choose to travel internationally, your travel plans may be severely disrupted, and you may be forced to remain outside of the United States for an indefinite time frame."
The State Department website offers the following explanation of a level 4 warning:
Level 4 – Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the US government may have very limited ability to provide assistance. The Department of State advises that US citizens not travel to the country or to leave as soon as it is safe to do so. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.
COVID-19, the disease caused by a newly identified coronavirus first detected in China in December, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic, saying it expects to see the number of cases and deaths climb higher. As of Thursday, there were more than 10,000 cases of coronavirus in the US, with cases reported in all 50 states.
On Monday, President Donald Trump encouraged Americans to avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and to practice social distancing.