By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - The U.S. issued a travel warning Wednesday for Italy, telling travelers to "exercise increased caution" if they plan on visiting due to the spread of the new coronavirus.
The State Department's notice builds on a prior advisory that cited terrorism as a potential concern for travelers. It now advises travelers to follow official health guidance issued by Italian officials and avoid government-designated areas known to be affected by COVID-19.
"Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and crowded public venues," it says.
The department also updated its guidance for Mongolia, warning that travel should be reconsidered at this time due to the Mongolian government's "travel and transport restrictions related to" its efforts to curb the virus after it emerged in neighboring China in December.
And the U.S. added to its already existing warning against traveling to Iran for any reason, citing the spread of the coronavirus within Iran.
"Those present in Iran should exercise increased caution due to an outbreak of COVID-19," the State Department said.
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to address the outbreak Wednesday evening alongside U.S. health officials.
World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier Wednesday that a sudden increase in cases of the new coronavirus in Italy, Iran and South Korea is “deeply concerning."
He said there are cases linked to Iran in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman and that there are now also cases linked to Italy in Algeria, Austria, Croatia, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland.
The WHO head said a lot had changed in the past week illustrating the “rapidly evolving nature” of the epidemic.
Also on Wednesday, Brazil reported the first case of coronavirus in Latin America.
Jose Henrique Ferreira, Sao Paulo's health secretary, said a 61-year-old patient returned recently from Italy, and is doing well in family isolation at home.
Outside mainland China, the coronavirus has spread to more than 30 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Singapore, France, Russia, Spain and India.
The U.S. reported 59 confirmed cases; 42 were passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was traveling in Asia, three were repatriated from Wuhan, China -- the disease's epicenter. An additional 14 cases were confirmed in either people who had returned to the U.S. from China, or their close household members.
The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak an international health emergency.