Guatemala restricts entry from China to keep out coronavirus

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala’s government is imposing blanket travel restrictions on people who have recently been in China to keep out the new coronavirus, President Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday.

Anybody who had been in China in the previous 15 days would be prevented from entering the South American country’s ports, airports and land crossings, Giammattei said.

“The purpose is to shield Guatemala from coronavirus,” Giammattei, a trained doctor, told reporters after visiting a public hospital.

Giammattei said that crews on ships arriving in Guatemalan ports that have been in China during the previous 15 days would not be allowed to enter. Any crew member that did enter would immediately be quarantined, he said.

The coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, the capital of China’s central Hubei province, and has spread to more than 9,800 people globally.

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

There are more than 130 confirmed cases in 24 countries and regions outside mainland China, but no deaths have been reported to date beyond China’s borders. The death toll in China is 213.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Dave Graham

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