The United States has issued an announcement declaring a public health emergency as the spread of the coronavirus from Wuhan in China continues to spread throughout the world.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Aza made the announcement on Friday, Jan. 31, and said there are other travel restrictions also to be put in place, to go into effect from 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 2. This will mean anyone who has visited Hubei Province in China over the past two weeks, is required to be quarantined for up to 14 days.
The government is implementing these temporary measures to increase the ability to “detect and contain” the coronavirus, said Aza. “The actions we have taken and continue to take, complement, complement the work of China, and the World Health Organization, to contain the outbreak within China,” said Aza.
Aza also said those who have been in any other part of China during the past 15 days will need to go through health screenings at a select number of ports of entry and may be required to undergo self-quarantine to ensure they don’t pose any health risk to the public.
In addition, President Trump signed a proclamation to suspend travel arrangements of foreign nationals who have been in China during the past two weeks, in order to help stop the spread of the coronavirus to the United States. The temporary ban does not apply to permanent U.S. citizens or immediate family members of U.S. citizens.
The coronavirus has infected almost 10,000 people, mostly in Hubei Province, with the death toll standing at 213. These are the official numbers, however, it is feared the real figures are much higher.
The WHO declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday, Jan. 30, after the number of coronavirus cases spiked more than tenfold in a week.
“The main reason for this declaration is not because of what is happening in China but because of what is happening in other countries,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press conference in Geneva on Thursday, The Associated Press reported.
“Our greatest concern is the potential for this virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems, which are ill-prepared to deal with it,” he said.