Insisting that the public health risk from the coronavirus is still “low” in the United States, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency Friday and announced it would temporarily bar foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the last two weeks from entering the country.
Exceptions will be made for immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents.
People less than 14 days removed from traveling in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, will be subject to a two-week quarantine at as-yet unidentified facilities in order to prevent the virus from spreading further, officials said.
Flights from China to the U.S. will also be “funneled” to seven airports where enhanced public health screenings will be required for Americans returning from China. Those airports are Los Angeles International, New York’s JFK, Chicago’s O’Hare, San Francisco International, Honolulu International, Seattle-Tacoma International and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International.
“The risk to the American public at this time is low,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who acknowledged that officials continue to learn more about the virus every day. The measures announced Friday, which will take effect at 5 p.m. EST Saturday, are “intended to keep this virus from causing significant consequences to the American public,” he said.
A number of major U.S. airlines have already suspended service from the U.S. to China through the end of March in response to the outbreak that has already caused more than 200 deaths in China.
Only six cases have been identified in the U.S., although another 191 individuals are being monitored for possible exposure, administration officials said.
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