US warns against China travel, as virus death toll hits 213

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The United States told its citizens to avoid China after the World Health Organization declared a global coronavirus emergency, as the Chinese death toll rose Friday to 213 and total infections surpassed the SARS epidemic of two decades ago.

The State Department raised it warning alert to the highest level, telling Americans “do not travel” to China and urged those already there to leave.

Hours earlier, the WHO, which was criticised for initially downplaying the virus threat, changed tack after crisis talks in Geneva.

“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as the emergency was declared.

“We must all act together now to limit further spread… We can only stop it together.”