CDC Warning - Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel

South Korea Travel Alert Increased to Level 3

South Korea is reporting an extensive SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus outbreak
seoul south korea

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Alert for the Korean Republic.

The CDC recommended on February 24, 2020, that international travelers avoid all nonessential travel to South Korea because of the widespread, ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, that can cause the COVID-19 disease in people.

Certain areas south of the city of Seoul have reported extensive COVID-19 disease outbreaks. 

In response to this outbreak, the US military based in South Korea has been placed on high-alert status.

Furthermore, this CDC Travel Alert says ‘older adults and people with chronic medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease. And there is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.’

The risk factors for this illness are not yet clear, although the person-to-person spreading of the virus has been reported.

The signs and symptoms of a SARS-CoV-2 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. 

If you must travel to South Korea, the CDC suggests discussing your South Korea travel plans with a healthcare provider.

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

  • Do not travel while sick. 
  • 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.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, but not your hands, when coughing or sneezing.
  • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol.

Healthcare providers should obtain a detailed travel history for patients with fever or acute respiratory symptoms.  

For patients with these symptoms who were in South Korea 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.

Coronavirus outbreak travel alerts are published by Vax-Before-Travel.