President Donald Trump has taken tough steps to protect Americans from the spread of the coronavirus rampaging through China.
In an order issued Friday, federal officials announced that as of 5 p.m. Sunday, “Foreign nationals other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled in China in the last 14 days will be denied entry into United States.”
American citizens returning the U.S. from areas in China where they may have been exposed to the virus will be quarantined, while others coming from the rest of China will be screened for the virus.
Earlier Friday, officials said Americans who evacuated from Wuhan earlier in the week would be quarantined for up to 14 days at March Air Reserve Base in California — the first mandatory quarantine order in the U.S. in 50 years, according to NPR.
Eight cases of the virus have been confirmed in the United States.
The eighth case was reported Saturday in Massachusetts. According to the Boston Herald, the man infected had been in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus. The other cases have been reported in California, Arizona, Washington state and Illinois.
Trump’s actions follow the declaration of a global health emergency over the virus and a State Department warning against travel to China.
“The risk of infection for Americans remains low,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said, according to a White House transcript of a briefing.
“And with these and our previous actions, we are working to keep the risk low. All agencies are working aggressively to monitor this continually evolving situation and to keep the public informed in a constantly transparent way,” he said.
During the briefing, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said that the coronavirus represents “a serious health situation in China, but I want to emphasize that the risk to the American public currently is low. Our goal is do all we can do to keep it that way.”
In response to the virus, incoming flights from China are limited to seven airports — San Francisco, Los Angeles International Airport, Seattle, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, Atlanta, Honolulu, and O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Delta, United and American have canceled flights to and from China, according to CNBC.
Travel bans have been enacted by other nations, and other airlines have also temporarily stopped service to China.
Research published in “The Lancet” suggested that in Wuhan alone, the city where the virus was first detected, more than 75,000 people may be infected, according to the South China Morning Post.
Apple on Saturday announced it is closing all of its stores, offices and contact centers in China until Feb. 9 “out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts,” CBS reported.
As the virus spreads, China has come under criticism for not acting faster to reveal what was taking place in Wuhan.
“It’s clear that a much stronger public health system could save China lives and money,” Tom Frieden, former director of the CDC, said, according to The Washington Post.
“China’s public health system has modernized, but China’s political system hasn’t,” Jude Blanchette, head of China studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said. “If anything, there’s been a regression.”
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