PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the threat of the coronavirus looms over multiple countries, the United States has put temporary restrictions on travelers from China.
The United States on Friday declared a public health emergency and announced significant entry restrictions because of a new virus that hit China and has spread to other nations.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who is coordinating the federal response, announced that President Donald Trump has signed an order that will temporarily bar entry to the U.S. of foreign nationals, other than the immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled in China within the last 14 days. The new restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday.
The announcement came a day after the World Health Organization declared a global emergency.
The coronavirus was first identified last month in Wuhan, China but it’s since spread to other countries worldwide, infecting nearly 10,000 people. According to latest information from the Associated Press, the virus has claimed the lives of 213 people in China.
The virus spreads through coughing and sneezing. While there is a test to identify its presence, there is no vaccine to prevent it. Common symptoms include runny nose, headache, cough and fever, shortness of breath, chills and body aches.
“The only individuals at this time in the U.S. who should be concerned they have this novel coronavirus are those who recently traveled to China or were in contact with individuals who had been in China and have symptoms of a respiratory disease,” said Dr. David Hotchkin, a pulmonologist at the Oregon Clinic.
Hotchkin said people are far more likely to get sick with the flu, which has killed more than 8,000 people in the U.S. this season.
About 200 Americans who have been evacuated from China due to the coronavirus are being quarantined at a Southern California military base. The CDC says those patients will spend two weeks on the base. As of earlier in the day Friday, none of the people being held at the Southern California base showed signs of the illness.
This is the first federal quarantine in the U.S. since the 1960s.
The last such quarantine was due to smallpox.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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