State Dept. urges Americans to reconsider travel to Italy amid coronavirus outbreak

The State Department on Friday urged Americans to reconsider traveling to Italy due to the ongoing outbreak of the coronavirus that has infected more than 650 people in the country.

The State Department issued a "Level 3 Warning" urging U.S. citizens to "reconsider travel." It advises Americans who plan to enter Italy to have a departure plan that does not rely on U.S. government assistance.

The outbreak in Europe has been tied to numerous people traveling to or from mainland China, where the virus originated. However, the State Department said that there has been a sustained community spread in Italy — meaning “people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known.”

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also raised its warning level to recommend avoiding nonessential travel to Italy. 

The Italian Ministry of Health said this week there was a spike of 50 percent more coronavirus cases within 24 hours.

During a Friday press conference, Italian officials said the number of overall cases had risen to 888 infected, with 64 patients in intensive case. As many as 21 deaths have been reported, according to Italian outlet The Local.

An estimated 50,000 people have been put under lockdown in a quarantined area that stretches across 11 villages and towns in northern Italy. 

Three players and a staff member of the Tuscany-based soccer club US Pianese have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a Friday statement.