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The Latest: Guatemala, Salvador block visitors from China

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the outbreak of a new virus from China (all times local): 3:55 a.m. At least two Central American countries say they will turn back visitors who have recently been in China.

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei announced Friday that the country would not allow the entry of foreigners who had been in China during the previous 15 days. He also declared a health alert at the country’s sea and airports.

El Salvador’s deputy health minister, Francisco Alabí, said flights from China had been suspended, though there are no such regularly scheduled flights. China’s embassy in El Salvador sent a tweet urging Chinese citizens to suspend planned visits to the country. It said El Salvador had turned away at least one passenger due to a recent trip to China.

No cases of the virus had been confirmed in Latin America as of Friday.

1:40 a.m.

Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are suspending all flights between the U.S. and China as an outbreak of a new virus spreads.

American Airlines says it's suspending flights beginning Friday through March 27. The company cited the U.S. State Department’s decision to advise against all travel to China. The decision also comes a day after the pilots’ union at American Airlines sued to stop the carrier from flying to China.

Delta says its suspension will not take effect until Feb. 6 to ensure that customers looking to exit China can do so. Delta's suspension will last until April 30.

Delta and American are the first U.S. carriers to suspend service to China amid the outbreak. Several European airlines also have suspended service.

The virus has sickened nearly 10,000 people worldwide in just two months and killed more than 200.

1:40 a.m.

China’s ambassador in Geneva says the World Health Organization’s decision to declare a virus outbreak a global emergency was warranted but cautions against “unnecessary panic” or “excessive measures” in response.

Chen Xu spoke to reporters Friday, a day after the U.N. health body made the declaration, mainly believing it could help countries with weaker health systems gear up for the response.

Chen said China was ready to help African countries, in particular, “both in terms of finance and in terms of materials.” China has been expanding its economic footprint in the resource-rich continent.

He and health care adviser Feng Yong acknowledged that China could also use international support. Feng said China could use face masks and protective suits.

The virus has sickened nearly 10,000 people worldwide in just two months and killed more than 200.

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