Coronavirus Death Toll Climbs to More Than 300 As U.S. Implements New Travel Restrictions
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread throughout the world, the U.S. has issued new travel advisories to prevent foreign nationals from entering the country if they have recently visited China.
So far, 17,205 people have become infected, with the death toll rising to 361, ABC News reported, citing the National Health Commission of the People's Republic of China. While nearly all deaths have been in China, a 44-year-old man from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus originated, died in the Philippines over the weekend. This became the first confirmed death outside of China, according to the BBC. And on Feb. 4, a 39-year-old man who visited Wuhan died at Hong Kong's Princess Margaret Hospital, making it the second confirmed death outside of China, NPR reported.
With the infection spreading and doctors continuing to work to understand it, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now requiring airlines to ask passengers on flights coming into the U.S. if they have visited mainland China in the past 14 days, CNN reported. The new directive went into effect on Sunday, with the State Department raising its travel advisory in China to a Level 4 — the highest "do not travel" warning.
The move comes as the U.S. has started denying entry to any foreign nationals who have visited China 14 days before their arrival in the United States, CNN reported, citing Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. American citizens who have traveled to China in the last 14 days will be rerouted to several designated airports, including John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport, for enhanced screening, according to the network. U.S. citizens who show no symptoms of the virus will be rebooked to their final destination and asked to self-quarantine in their homes.
According to CNN, a Canadian citizen was turned away on Feb. 3 at the U.S. border as part of the temporary ban. It's not clear if anyone has been turned back.
"I want to stress: the risk of infection for Americans remains low," Azar said, according to CNN. "And with these and our previous actions, we're working to keep the risk low."
Many international airlines have suspended flights to and from China, including Delta, American, and British Airways. And the Cruise Lines International Association, whose members include Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International, said in a statement that its members “have suspended crew movements from mainland China and will deny boarding to any individual, whether guest or crew, who has traveled from or through mainland China within the previous 14 days.”
A total of 11 patients have been diagnosed with coronavirus in the U.S. so far, according to The Hill.
While many commercial flights from China have been canceled, NBC News reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said America will send more flights to bring back U.S. citizens from the Hubei province, where Wuhan lies.
“We may well end up bringing some citizens back from other countries as well,” Pompeo said, according to the network. “We hope also to bring some medical supplies.”