US declares emergency, new entry restrictions due to virus

The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency because of a new virus that hit China and has spread to other nations.

Posted: Jan 31, 2020 4:29 PM

Washington (AP) — The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency because of a new virus that hit China and has spread to other nations.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also announced that President Donald Trump will temporarily bar entry to the U.S. of foreign nationals believed to be a risk of transmitting the virus. The new restrictions begin Sunday afternoon.

“The risk of infection for Americans remains low and with these and our previous actions we are working to keep the risk low,” Azar said.

Americans returning from Hubei province, the center of the outbreak, will be required to undergo 14 days of quarantine. Others returning from elsewhere in China will be allowed to self-monitor their condition for a similar period.

The U.S. will also begin funneling all flights to the U.S. from China to seven major airports where passengers can be screened for illness.

The virus has infected almost 10,000 people globally in just two months, a troublesome sign that prompted the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak a global emergency. The death toll stood at 213, including 43 new fatalities, all in China.

The announcement came hours after the State Department issued a level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory, the highest grade of warning, and told Americans in China to consider departing using commercial means. “Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the advisory said.

The U.S. advised against all travel to China as the number of cases of a worrying new virus spiked more than tenfold in a week, including the highest death toll in a 24-hour period on Friday.

The virus has infected almost 10,000 people globally in just two months, a troublesome sign of its spread that prompted the World Health Organization to declare the outbreak a global emergency. The death toll stood at 213, including 43 new fatalities, all in China.

The State Department’s level 4 “Do Not Travel” advisory, the highest grade of warning, told Americans in China to consider departing using commercial means. “Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice,” the advisory said.

Hours later, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines announced they were suspending all flights between the U.S. and China, joining several international carriers that have stopped flying to China as the virus outbreak continues to spread.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials issued a two-week quarantine order for the 195 Americans evacuated earlier this week from the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. It was the first time a federal quarantine has been ordered since the 1960s, when one was enacted over concern about potential spread of smallpox, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

“We understand this action may seem drastic. We would rather be remembered for over-reacting than under-reacting,” the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Messonnier said. None of the Americans being housed at a Southern California military base has shown signs of illness.

China counted 9,692 confirmed cases Friday, the vast majority in Hubei province and its provincial capital, Wuhan, where the first illnesses were detected in December.

The National Health Commission reported 171 cases have been “cured and discharged from hospital.” WHO has said most people who got the illness had milder cases, though 20% experienced severe symptoms. Symptoms include fever and cough, and in severe cases, shortness of breath and pneumonia.

China has placed more than 50 million people in the region under virtual quarantine, while foreign countries, companies and airlines have cut back severely on travel to China and quarantined those who recently passed through Wuhan. Infected people don’t show symptoms immediately and may be able to pass on the virus before they appear sick.

American Airlines said it was halting all flights starting Friday and running through March 27. Delta plans to wait until Feb. 6 to suspend China operations to help travelers in China leave the country. It said the stoppage will continue through April 30.

United Airlines announced that it will suspend flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu but continue flights to Hong Kong.

Since China informed WHO about the new virus in late December, at least 23 countries have reported cases, as scientists race to understand how exactly the virus is spreading and how severe it is.

Experts say there is significant evidence the virus is spreading among people in China and WHO noted with its emergency declaration Thursday it was especially concerned that some cases abroad also involved human-to-human transmission. It defines an international emergency as an “extraordinary event” that poses a risk to other countries and requires a coordinated international response.

“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 told reporters in Geneva. “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.

A declaration of a global emergency typically brings greater money and resources, but may also prompt nervous governments to restrict travel and trade to affected countries. The announcement also imposes more disease reporting requirements on countries.

On Friday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it was authorizing the departure of family members and all non-emergency U.S. government employees from Beijing and the consulates in the cities of Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shanghai, and Shenyang. Staff from the Wuhan consulate departed earlier this week.

The decision was made “out of an abundance of caution related to logistical disruptions stemming from restricted transportation and availability of appropriate health care,” the embassy said.

Mike Wester, a businessman in Beijing who has lived in China for 19 years, said he has no plans to leave.

“I feel safer self-quarantining myself here at home than I do risking travel,” Wester said.

He pointed to potential risks from crowds at airports and being required to remove a mask for passport and security checks.

Japan and Germany also advised against non-essential travel and Britain did as well, except for Hong Kong and Macao. Popular holiday and shopping destination Singapore barred Chinese from traveling there, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to do so.

Tedros said WHO was not recommending limiting travel or trade to China.

“There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade,” he said. He added that Chinese President Xi Jinping had committed to help stop the spread of the virus beyond its borders.

Although scientists expect to see limited transmission of the virus between people with close contact, like within families, the instances of spread to people who may have had less exposure to the virus is worrying.

In Japan, a tour guide and bus driver became infected after escorting two tour groups from Wuhan. In Germany, five employees of a German auto parts supplier became ill after a Chinese colleague visited, including two who had no direct contact with the woman, who showed no symptoms of the virus until her flight back to China. On Friday, Germany confirmed a sixth case, a child of one of the people already infected.

“That’s the kind of transmission chain that we don’t want to see,” said Marion Koopmans, an infectious diseases specialist at Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands and a member of WHO’s emergency committee.

The new virus has now infected more people globally than were sickened during the 2002-2003 outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, a cousin of the new virus. Both are from the coronavirus family, which also includes those that can cause the common cold.

Terre Haute
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 60°
Robinson
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 59°
Indianapolis
Few Clouds
56° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 56°
Rockville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 57°
Casey
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 58°
Brazil
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 60°
Marshall
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 60°
Sunny and breezy
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Casey's General Store works to help Wabash Valley veterans and their families

Image

Here's the perfect Halloween morning breakfast idea

Image

North Central-Perry Central

Image

North Knox-Evansville Mater Dei

Image

Linton-North Posey

Image

Sullivan-Vincennes Lincoln

Image

Washington-Edgewood

Image

TH South-Cathedral

Image

Progress is moving along with the new THPD headquarters

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 408648

Reported Deaths: 9994
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1864055469
DuPage24696619
Lake21819518
Will19946439
Kane18030351
Winnebago11084186
St. Clair8247224
Madison7554158
McHenry6953121
Champaign658528
Unassigned6324283
Peoria489378
Sangamon445064
McLean439237
Rock Island434995
Kankakee368281
Macon355556
Kendall293830
Tazewell290559
LaSalle265268
DeKalb260543
Adams213624
Coles211140
Boone203825
Williamson201661
Vermilion189311
Clinton187731
Whiteside169130
Jackson163726
Knox141821
Randolph135815
Ogle13548
Effingham12854
Stephenson11829
Marion117023
Grundy10867
Franklin108110
Morgan103226
Monroe101630
Bureau98617
Jefferson97352
Christian88831
Henry8797
Macoupin85411
Lee8402
McDonough81822
Union81025
Douglas7879
Shelby74612
Livingston73012
Woodford72315
Fayette72024
Crawford6766
Montgomery66716
Logan6454
Saline63711
Fulton6222
Warren5619
Jo Daviess5569
Iroquois53919
Bond5329
Wayne53217
Carroll49013
Jersey48521
Perry48516
Cass47411
Moultrie4706
Pike4237
Johnson3920
Lawrence3628
Richland34718
Mason3465
Hancock3454
Washington3392
Clay33514
Greene32917
Clark32818
Cumberland3136
Mercer3116
White2895
De Witt2826
Piatt2822
Jasper28010
Wabash2566
Pulaski2461
Ford21716
Menard1911
Marshall1713
Edgar16711
Massac1652
Alexander1471
Hamilton1432
Henderson1360
Brown1210
Scott1160
Edwards1140
Gallatin1132
Putnam1010
Schuyler1011
Stark963
Calhoun700
Hardin580
Pope441
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 175893

Reported Deaths: 4286
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion27107796
Lake15351372
St. Joseph10252178
Elkhart9964148
Allen9275235
Hamilton6799122
Vanderburgh648473
Tippecanoe436516
Porter379753
Hendricks3599139
Monroe351538
Johnson3506133
Delaware332081
Clark322467
Vigo296943
Madison275899
LaPorte256267
Cass237426
Kosciusko223529
Warrick214066
Floyd196269
Howard178467
Wayne165634
Dubois158827
Marshall157830
Bartholomew155359
Grant145340
Henry143830
Boone137850
Hancock132444
Noble131135
Jackson126920
Dearborn111028
Lawrence106238
Morgan106040
Clinton100816
Gibson99612
Shelby97937
Daviess97336
Knox91010
Fayette87522
DeKalb86713
LaGrange86115
Harrison85924
Putnam81717
Posey8138
Jasper7665
Miami7355
Steuben7189
Montgomery69422
White67016
Adams6518
Greene61138
Scott58716
Decatur58339
Ripley5338
Whitley5326
Wabash52610
Wells51712
Clay5137
Huntington5135
Starke5029
Sullivan49114
Randolph48811
Spencer4466
Orange44125
Perry44114
Fulton42510
Jefferson4235
Washington4223
Jennings40913
Franklin40626
Jay3996
Pike37618
Carroll37013
Fountain3623
Tipton29823
Rush2964
Vermillion2951
Blackford2766
Parke2754
Newton25211
Owen2291
Martin2100
Pulaski1884
Crawford1751
Brown1563
Ohio1477
Union1300
Benton1200
Switzerland1080
Warren1081
Unassigned0236