“At this time, the risk to Americans remains low, and we are working to keep it that way,” Azar added. “We will continue our work to monitor, respond to, and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus and ensure that Americans have the and up to date health and travel information.”
The declaration means any foreign nationals who have been to China over the past two weeks will be banned from entering the US if they have no immediate family members who are US citizens or permanent residents.
It comes as the deadly coronavirus has spread outside of China to Asia, the US, Australia, Europe, the UK and the Middle East, with deaths now reaching over 210 and close to 10,000 cases confirmed. A seventh US case of coronavirus was also confirmed in Santa Clara, California, on Friday, CNET sister site CBS News reported.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday also announced it will quarantine all 195 US citizens who flew back to the US from Wuhan, China, on Jan. 29. The quarantine will last 14 days.
“This action is a precautionary and preventive step to maximize the containment of the virus,” the CDC tweeted.
As of Sunday, all flights from China to the US will be directed to one of seven airports, according to a Politico report. Those airports are John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International, San Francisco International, Seattle-Tacoma International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Chicago O’Hare International and Daniel K. Inouye International in Honolulu.
Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, is an illness exhibiting pneumonia-like symptoms. It was first reported to the WHO on Dec. 31, with Chinese scientists linking the disease to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses that include the deadly SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS.