TUESDAY, Feb. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) — While health experts fear that the coronavirus outbreak in China will become a pandemic as infections topped 20,600 worldwide, the second death outside China was reported in Hong Kong on Tuesday.
A pandemic is looking more likely by the day, as the World Health Organization reports there are now 162 cases in at least 23 countries outside China. On Sunday, the United States began to bar entry to any foreigners who have recently traveled to China. Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the American actions were taken because there are “a lot of unknowns” surrounding the virus and its transmission path, The New York Times reported. The temporary entry ban applies to foreign nationals, with the exception of relatives of citizens and permanent residents, The Times reported. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to the Hubei province of China will be quarantined for up to 14 days, U.S. health officials said. U.S. citizens who have recently traveled to other parts of China will face health screenings and voluntary quarantines of up to 14 days.
“This is an aggressive action by the United States, but our goal is to slow this thing down,” Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a Monday media briefing. “We are preparing as if this were the next pandemic, but we are hopeful still that this is not and will not be the case. This is the first time in 50 years that CDC has issued a quarantine order. We would rather be remembered for overreacting than for underreacting.”
Messonnier noted Monday that the U.S. State Department will be bringing more people home from Wuhan. Flights are expected this week. “Over the weekend, CDC sent four additional teams to specific Department of Defense locations where those planes will arrive,” she said. “These passengers will be under federal quarantine for 14 days from when the planes left Wuhan, same as the 195 folks” who were evacuated last week.
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