US declares its own public health emergency over coronavirus
The United States has declared its own public health emergency over the coronavirus outbreak and will begin banning the entry of some foreign travelers from China starting this weekend, HHS Secretary Alex Azar II announced.
Azar signed the emergency declaration Friday afternoon, but said the risk to Americans from the coronavirus “remains low, and we are working to keep it that way.”
The move came 1 day after WHO declared a global public health emergency over the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, which has caused nearly 10,000 confirmed infections and 213 deaths in China and spread to 19 other countries, including the U.S.
Azar said U.S. President Donald J. Trump signed a presidential proclamation “temporarily suspending the entry into the United States of foreign nationals who pose a risk of transmitting the 2019 novel coronavirus. As a result, foreign nationals other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States for this time” — actions which will become effective on Sunday at 5 p.m. ET.
“These prudent, targeted and temporary actions will decrease the pressure on public health officials screening incoming travelers, expedite the processing of U.S. citizens and permanent residents returning from China and ensure resources are focused on the health and safety of the American people,” Azar said.
The declarations followed several developments in the fast-moving outbreak, including the first U.S. case of human-to-human transmission between a Chicago couple and the first reported asymptomatic transmission of 2019-nCoV, which occurred in Germany. As of Friday afternoon, there were six reported cases in the U.S.
U.S. air carriers have also begun suspending flights to China, and the CDC ordered a 14-day quarantine of U.S. citizens who arrived on a flight from Wuhan, where the outbreak is centered. – by Gerard Gallagher