The US is telling Americans to avoid nonessential travel to Italy

Military officers in Milan outside Duomo cathedral, which was closed because of the coronavirus outbreak. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
  • The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel warning for Italy amid the spread of COVID-19, updating its Level 2 warning from February 24.
  • The European country has the highest number of novel-coronavirus cases outside Asia, with more than 800 infected and 21 deaths.
  • The State Department issued a Level 2 warning for Italy in January stemming from terrorism concerns.
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The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel warning for Italy after more than 800 cases of COVID-19 were discovered in mostly the northern region of the country.

At least 21 people have died from the virus in Italy. The CDC warned Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to the country. Their warning also stated that older adults and those with pre-existing conditions could be at a higher risk of severe disease.

“A novel coronavirus is causing an outbreak of respiratory illness (COVID-19) in Italy,” the CDC warned on its website. “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.”

On Monday, the CDC issued a Level 2 travel warning for the country, but by Friday it had revised the warning to Level 3.

While it was previously thought the incubation period of the virus was up to 14 days, some studies suggests it could be much longer. Some have suggested 19 days, and others as much as 24 days, Business Insider previously reported.

The CDC also said that those who have been in Italy in the past two weeks and develop any respiratory symptoms should seek medical help. They should call their health care provider before their visit and inform them of their travel and potential exposure, which allows their provider take necessary precautions to prevent potential further spread.

In January, the US State Department issued a Level 2 travel warning for the country because of terrorism concerns.

The US Embassy in Rome issued a notice on Monday regarding the COVID-19 outbreaks.

The message said routine visa services in the Milan Consulate would be suspended until March 2 because of staff shortages. The majority of COVID-19 cases were discovered in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which include the popular tourist cities of Milan and Venice.

Insider previously reported that Italy has placed a dozen cities on lockdown to combat the spread. The lockdown prevents 500,000 people from leaving the region.