Novel Coronavirus in China

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel
Alert - Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions
Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel—Widespread Community Transmission

Key Points


  • CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the People’s Republic of China (this does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or the island of Taiwan).
  • There is an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus that can be spread from person to person.
  • Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.

What is the current situation?

CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China. This does not include Hong Kong, Macau, or the island of Taiwan. CDc has posted a level 1 travel notice for Hong KongThe US Department of State has issued a level 4 travel advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the novel (new) coronavirus outbreak. There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.

A novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in China. Illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe. Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Sore throat also has been reported in some patients. Some patients also have reported diarrhea without other symptoms. This new coronavirus has caused severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and those with chronic medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness.

In response to this outbreak, Chinese officials are screening travelers leaving some cities in China. Several countries and territories throughout the world have implemented health screening of travelers arriving from China.

On arrival to the United States, travelers from China will undergo health screening. Travelers with signs and symptoms of illness (fever, cough, or difficulty breathing) will have an additional health assessment. Travelers who have been in China during the past 14 days, including US citizens or residents and others who are allowed to enter the United States, will be required to enter through specific airports and participate in monitoring by health officials until 14 days after they left China. Some people may have their movement restricted or be asked to limit their contact with others until the 14-day period has ended.

What can travelers do to protect themselves and others?

CDC recommends avoiding nonessential travel to China. If you must travel:

  • Avoid contact with sick people.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Discuss travel to China with your healthcare provider. Older adults and travelers with chronic medical conditions may be at risk for more severe disease.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.
    • It is especially important to clean hands after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

If you spent time in China during the past 14 days and feel sick with fever or cough, or have difficulty breathing:

  • Seek medical advice. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others. 
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60%-95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.

Clinician Information

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever or acute respiratory symptoms.  For patients with these symptoms who were in China on or after December 1, 2019, and had onset of illness within 2 weeks of leaving, consider the novel coronavirus and notify infection control personnel and your local health department immediately.

Although routes of transmission have yet to be definitively determined, CDC recommends a cautious approach to interacting with patients under investigation. Ask such patients to wear a face mask as soon as they are identified. Conduct patient evaluation in a private room with the door closed, ideally an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, and airborne precautions, and use eye protection (goggles or a face shield). For additional healthcare infection control recommendations, visit CDC's Infection Control webpage.

For additional information, please see:

 

This notice was originally posted January 6, 2020.