The US Department of State (DOS) is urging travellers to “exercise increased caution” when travelling to Japan or South Korea due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus, issuing a Level 2 travel advisory for both destinations on Saturday.
“Many cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) have been associated with travel to or from mainland China or close contact with a travel-related case, but sustained community spread has been reported in Japan,” the advisory for Japan explains.
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“Sustained community spread means that people in Japan have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and the spread is ongoing. The CDC has issued a Level 2 Travel Health Notice.”
The advisory for South Korea also issues sustained community spreading of the coronavirus.
The DOS suggests that older adults, as well as those with chronic medical conditions, consult a healthcare professional before embarking on travel or consider postponing any nonessential travel altogether, as they may be at a higher risk for severe disease.
If travellers must journey to Japan or South Korea, the advisory also shared tips on how to ensure safety, many of which merely encourage people to practice common sense.
Suggestions for preventative measures include steering clear of sick people; not touching your nose, eyes, or mouth with unclean hands; and washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Alternatively, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60-94% alcohol.
Travellers are also encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive up-to-date notifications and make it easier to find you in case of an emergency.
According to a situation report issued by the World Health Organization on Monday, there are currently 144 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Japan, with one death, and 763 confirmed cases in the Republic of Korea, with seven deaths.