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 believed to be a risk of transmitting the virus. The new restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. EST on Sunday.
“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 China will be allowed into the country, but will face screening at select ports of entry and 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 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.
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