President Donald Trump announced restrictions on travel from Iran and urged American citizens not to travel to certain areas of South Korea and Italy while maintaining that the overall risk to the US is low but can turn suddenly.

The announcement came hours after the first coronavirus linked death in the country from the Washington state.

Donald Trump
US Vice President Pence confirmed that Donald Trump had authorised a ban on entry of foreign nationals who travelled to Iran in the last two weeks.Reuters

"We advise all Americans not to travel to Italy and South Korea", Vice President Mike Pence said at a hurriedly convened White House press conference.

Joining the press conference, Trump told reporters at the White House: "Unfortunately, one person passed away overnight. She was a wonderful woman, a medically high-risk patient in her late 50s."

"Additional cases in the United States are likely, but healthy individuals should be able to fully recover. If you are healthy, you will probably go through a process and you will be fine," Trump added urging citizens to not panic.

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Pence confirmed that Trump had authorised a ban on the entry of foreign nationals who travelled to Iran in the last two weeks. The vice president has been tasked by Donald Trump to lead the administration's efforts in the fight against the coronavirus.

Coronavirus in the US

Coronavirus has spread to nearly 60 countries, more than 85,000 people worldwide have contracted the virus and 2,900 have passed away. Around 22 cases of coronavirus have been reported in the United States so far.

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Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the first coronavirus victim in the US died in the state of Washington.

The Governor of Washington state has declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

Trump administration health experts leading the US response to coronavirus said there "will be more cases" although the highest risk is mainly to older people with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity, which heighten "respiratory distress" from the virus.

The US currently has more than 60 people who have been infected, most of them repatriated from Wuhan, China or evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Anthony S Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that normal, healthy Americans are at low risk and would typically recover after mild symptoms similar to the annual flu.

Fauci said outliers would always surface and that does not change the US assessment of "low risk" for now.

The first vaccine trials are expected to begin in about two months and it would take a further three months to determine safety and efficacy which means the fastest possible time frame would still be upwards of 6-8 months before a breakthrough, Fauci has said.

(With agency inputs)