(U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a graphic from a study he says names the United States as the country most prepared to handle a pandemic during a news conference on Feb. 27)[Getty/Kyodo]
WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is considering imposing new restrictions on travelers from Japan and South Korea, who are seeing a spread of the coronavirus in their countries, CNN reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The report came after President Donald Trump told reporters that the administration is looking at the possibility of imposing travel restrictions to "a few countries that have a little bit disproportionately high number" of virus cases.
The president also said that a decision on the issue will be made "very soon," without elaborating.
The State Department last week raised its travel alert to citizens heading to Japan to level 2 on the four-level advisory scale, calling for "increased caution." The alert for South Korea is at level 3, which calls for citizens to "reconsider travel."
The United States currently does not allow foreign nationals who have visited mainland China in the past 14 days to enter the country.
Concerns are growing that the United States may see a major outbreak of the pneumonia-causing virus, with health authorities recently confirming what could be the first instance of "community spread" of the disease, meaning the illness might have been acquired through an unknown exposure in the community.
The case was confirmed on Tuesday in California in a person who reportedly had no travel history to locations known to have the virus or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19, the official name of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.