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(2nd LD) Pence: U.S. urges Americans not to travel to S. Korean regions most affected by coronavirus

All News 05:41 March 01, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with Trump's remarks, other details)
By Lee Haye-ah

WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that the State Department is raising its travel advisory to the highest level for areas in South Korea that have been most affected by the coronavirus. The new measure urges Americans not to travel to the designated regions.

Pence, who is overseeing the U.S. response to the coronavirus, made the announcement at a White House press briefing as U.S. President Donald Trump looked on.

The vice president did not identify the affected regions in South Korea, but the news came amid a surge in cases in Daegu and its neighboring North Gyeongsang Province.

"We are urging Americans to not travel to the areas in Italy, and the areas in South Korea, that are most affected by the coronavirus," Pence said, adding that the president had authorized the State Department to increase the travel advisory to Level 4.

The department had yet to show the new measure on its website.

This AFP photo shows U.S. President Donald Trump speaking during a press conference on the coronavirus as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence looks on at the White House in Washington on Feb. 29, 2020. (Yonhap)

"The president's also directed the State Department to work with our allies in Italy and in South Korea to coordinate a screening, a medical screening, in their countries of any individuals that are coming in to the United States of America. And we look forward to working with them in a collaborative and a cooperative way," Pence added.

Last Saturday, the State Department raised the travel advisory for South Korea to Level 2, urging "increased caution," and then on Wednesday to Level 3, which means "reconsider travel."

South Korea has reported 3,150 cases of COVID-19, with 17 deaths. Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province have accounted for 86 percent of all infections.

The numbers are expected to increase further as the government continues tests on followers of a religious sect at the center of the massive outbreak.

The White House announcement came shortly after the U.S. reported its first death of a coronavirus patient, in the state of Washington.

Earlier Saturday, U.S. Forces Korea confirmed its fourth coronavirus infection, in the spouse of a USFK soldier stationed in the southeastern county of Chilgok.

"We care very much for the troops," Trump said when asked about the situation with the 28,500-strong USFK. "We're in constant touch with the troops. We've been speaking to the general ... And that's all working out fine, and we're in touch with the authorities in South Korea, too."

hague@yna.co.kr
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