US Declares Health Emergency, Limits Arriving Foreigners

Also,195 Americans evacuated from China are ordered to stay in a coronavirus quarantine
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2020 3:40 PM CST
Updated Jan 31, 2020 5:33 PM CST
US Issues Virus Quarantine, Declares Health Emergency
Personnel in protective clothing unload luggage Wednesday from the plane carrying US citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California.   (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

The US on Friday declared a public health emergency and announced significant entry restrictions because of the fast-spreading coronavirus. HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced that President Trump signed an order to temporarily bar entry to the US of foreign nationals who have traveled in China in the past 14 days. The restrictions take effect at 5pm EST Sunday, the AP reports. Americans returning from China will be allowed into the country, but will face screening at select ports of entry and be required to undertake 14 days of self-screening to ensure they don't pose a health risk. Those returning from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. Beginning Sunday, the US will also begin funneling all flights to the US from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened.

In addition, the government has ordered 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan—the city where the coronavirus outbreak began—to be quarantined at a California base for 14 days, CDC officials said. They described the order for the first federal quarantine in about a half-century as a precaution, the Wall Street Journal reports. "If we take strong measures now, we may be able to blunt the impact of the virus on the US," said Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. The evacuees landed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County on Wednesday. The last mandated quarantine was in the 1960s to contain smallpox. (More coronavirus stories.)

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