US coronavirus: Restrictions on travelers from China go into place Sunday

First Wuhan coronavirus death reported outside China

The plan, which goes into effect at 5 p.m. ET, includes temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival to the US, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Friday.

Restrictions also apply to US citizens who have been in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the 2 weeks prior to their return to the US. Upon their return to the US, those citizens will be subject to a mandatory quarantine of up to 14 days, he said.

US citizens returning from the rest of mainland China in the 14 days prior will undergo health screenings at selected ports of entry and face up to 14 days of self-monitored quarantine.

Flights from China will be directed through 7 airports — John F. Kennedy in New York, Atlanta, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Azar outlined the restrictions Friday as he declared the coronavirus a public health emergency in the United States, stressing that “the risk to the American public remains low at this time, and we are working to keep this risk low.”

That sentiment was echoed by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien who told CBS “Face the Nation” on Sunday, “Right now there is no reason for Americans to panic” regarding the coronavirus. O’Brien added, “this is something that is a low risk we think in the US.”

The Transportation Security Administration also took steps to combat the spread of the coronavirus. The agency issued a new directive this weekend that required airlines to ask passengers on flights from outside the United States if they’ve been to mainland China in the past 14 days. All frontline employees will also be permitted to wear surgical masks.

8th case recently traveled from Wuhan

Eight cases of the novel coronavirus have so far been confirmed in the US, the latest being a college student in his 20s, according to health officials.
The eighth confirmed case is a student at the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts, health officials said Saturday, and had returned from Wuhan on January 29. He sought medical after his return and has been isolated ever since. The few close contacts he had have been identified and monitored for symptoms.
Eighth US coronavirus case is college student in Boston

The case poses no increased risk to other students on the schools’ campus, the medical director of the Boston Public Health Commission told reporters Saturday. He’s “doing quite well” in quarantine at his home and is being monitored by public health nurses.

Other coronavirus cases have been confirmed in California, Washington state, Arizona and Illinois. In total, according ot the CDC, 241 patients in 36 states are under investigation. Among those, 114 tested negative and 121 had results pending.

Outside the US, 305 people have died of the coronavirus — 304 of them in China. The Philippines on Sunday announced the first reported death outside mainland China, a 44-year-old Chinese man who had flown into the country from Wuhan. There are 173 confirmed cases in more than 20 countries outside of China.

Second evacuation of US citizens planned

A second evacuation flight is set to carry US citizens out of of Wuhan, a US official with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

The flight should be ready for departure Monday, according to the official, as indicated in US Embassy Beijing’s email to American citizens who are still in the central Chinese city where the virus originated.

The official said there might be an additional evacuation flight due to continued high-demand from US citizens in Wuhan.

“I can’t confirm the numbers yet, but this upcoming evacuation might not be the last,” the official said said.

Last week the first chartered plane carrying nearly 200 US citizens — including diplomats and their families — arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California.

The CDC ordered a federal 14-day quarantine for those citizens — the first such order in more than 50 years.

Airlines expand their flight cancellations

The US travel restrictions prompted some airlines to expedite or expand their plans to suspend flights between the US and China.
Major US airlines expand flight cancellations to China and Hong Kong

Delta Air Lines decided to suspended flights until April 30 beginning Sunday — 4 days ealier than initially planned. Its last China-bound flight left on Saturday and the last returning flight from China to the US leaves Sunday.

Meantime, American Airlines, which canceled all flights to mainland China Friday, said Saturday it was canceling flights to Hong Kong through Monday and would make daily decisions on Hong Kong flights depending on the situation.

United Airlines announced Friday it would suspend flights from its hub cities in the US and Beijing, Chengdu and Shanghai from February 6 to March 28. Select flights will operate until next week to “help ensure our US-based employees, as well as customers, have options to return home,” it said in a statement.

CNN’s Steven Jiang, Faith Karimi, Evan Perez, Elizabeth Cohen, Jamie Gumbrecht and Shannon Liao contributed to this report.

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