UPDATE 6:30 PM: Over the weekend, the U.S. State Department raised the travel advisory levels for Japan and South Korea amid the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak. Now, the CDC has come out with its own recommendation that U.S. residents avoid all non-essential travel to South Korea.
According to the State Department’s website, there are 4 travel advisory levels:
-Level 1: exercise normal precautions
-Level 2: exercise increased caution
-Level 3: reconsider travel
-Level 4: do not travel
In the wake of Japan and South Korea experiencing hundreds of cases of COVID-19, the State Department says American travelers to those countries need to “exercise increased caution.”
“Level 2 means if you are higher risk don’t do non-essential travel that means you will be safer to not go,” said Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
High-risk groups include older adults and those with chronic medical conditions. The CDC has increased its travel notice to South Korea to Level 3, which means travelers should avoid all non-essential travel to that country.
But what about travelers from Japan and South Korea coming to U.S. destinations like Hawaii? We’re told Hawaii sees about 700 flights a month between those two countries. Green says they expect officials to properly screen.
“They check everybody so anybody who has touched China in the last 14 days, they don’t want them traveling beyond their own borders and they are asking them to self-quarantine in their country,” he said.
A federal ban on Chinese travelers has been in place since February 3rd. We asked about possible travel restrictions for Japan and South Korea. Green hopes it does not get that far but expects to see a slow down in Japan’s economy which would impact Hawaii.
“So I would expect there will be fewer travelers no matter what from Japan and South Korea just because their economies are going to slow,” said Green. “Every single day we re-asses this with the CDC because we want to have some advance notice if there is going to be major changes that they recommend.”
While Green hopes there will be no cases in Hawaii, officials doubt that will happen.
“The main thing is mitigating the risk and also following every possibly high-risk person that comes because if they come here we don’t want them to spread anything,” he said.
The state says at this time, there is no indication of transmission of illness related to the Japanese couple who visited Hawaii and was diagnosed with COVID-19.
PREVIOUS: There have been cases of ongoing community spread (not travel-related) of COVID-19 in Japan and South Korea.
The State Department raised the advisory level for travel to Japan to Level 2 – Exercise Increased Caution. Older people and people with chronic medical conditions are at higher risk and should consider postponing nonessential travel to these locations.
Non-essential travel to South Korea is not advised. The CDC raised South Korea’s advisory level to Level 3 – Avoid Nonessential Travel. Older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease.