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AHLA News & Analysis

Public Health

United States, WHO Declare Public Health Emergency in Response to Spread of Coronavirus

​In a January 31 press briefing, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced that the United States has declared the outbreak of 2019-nCoV (known as coronavirus) a public health emergency.

The move comes on the heels of the World Health Organization's (WHO's) declaration January 30 that coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

According to Azar, the U.S. will temporarily ban foreign nationals from entering the country if they have traveled to China in the last two weeks and are not immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced federal quarantine orders to all 195 U.S. citizens who repatriated to the U.S. this week from China. 

On January 29, President Trump announced the formation of the Coronavirus Task Force led by Azar.

According to the statement, the Task Force will lead the administration’s efforts "to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information."

According to WHO, as of January 30, there are 7,711 confirmed and 12,167 suspected cases throughout China. Of the confirmed cases, 1,370 are severe and 170 people have died.

Looking at the rest of the world, WHO said there are 83 cases in 18 countries. Of these, only seven had no history of travel in China. 

"[I]t is still possible to interrupt virus spread, provided that countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and treat cases, trace contacts, and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk," WHO said in a statement. 

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