The United States of America has declared a Public Health Emergency over the deadly Coronavirus outbreak, as more cases are being confirmed.
According to the report by Reuters, Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar, told a media briefing at the White House on Friday that the declaration of the public health emergency over the coronavirus, would see an extraordinary step of barring entry to the United States of foreign nationals who have travelled to China.
Starting on Sunday, U.S. citizens who have travelled to China’s Hubei Province within the last 14 days will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine, Alex Azar added.
The administration will also limit flights from China to seven U.S. airports, he said.
“The actions we have taken and continue to take complement the work of China and the World Health Organization to contain the outbreak within China,” Azar said.
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said there were six confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. He said there were 191 individuals under investigation for the disease.
Redfield said the risk to the U.S. public from the outbreak is low.
The flu-like virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and was first identified earlier this month, has resulted in 213 deaths in China.
More than 9,800 people have been infected in China and more than 130 cases reported in at least 25 other countries and regions, with Russia, Britain, Sweden and Italy all reporting their first cases on Thursday or Friday.
The U.S. State Department warned Americans on Thursday not to travel to China because of the epidemic.
The public health emergency declaration by the United States is coming just two days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) declared the Coronavirus a global health emergency.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had on Thursday said the decision to declare a Public Health Emergency on coronavirus was based on the recommendations of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) under the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005).
In a statement issued in Geneva, the Director-General explained the reason why the committee took the decision.
“The main reason for this declaration is not what is happening in China but what is happening in other countries.
“The concern is that it could spread to countries with weaker health systems.
“The death toll now stands at 170 people in China,’’ he said.
According to WHO, there have been 98 cases in 18 countries outside of the country but no deaths.
In addition, the statement stated that the Committee agreed that the outbreak met the criteria for a PHEIC and proposed the following advice to be issued as Temporary Recommendations.
“The Committee emphasised that the declaration of a PHEIC should be seen in the spirit of support and appreciation for China and its people.
“It should also been seen in the actions China has taken on the frontlines of this outbreak, with transparency, and, it is to be hoped, with success.
“In line with the need for global solidarity, the committee felt that a global coordinated effort is needed to enhance preparedness in other regions of the world that may need additional support for that,’’ it said.
According to the statement, the Committee acknowledged that there are still many unknowns, cases have now been reported in five WHO regions in one month, and human-to-human transmission has occurred outside Wuhan and outside China.
“The Committee believes that it is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk.
“It is important to note that as the situation continues to evolve, so will the strategic goals and measures to prevent and reduce the spread of the infection.’’
Novel coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan and has been reported in 18 other countries.