Public health emergency declared over coronavirus outbreak

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks about the coronavirus in the briefing room of the White House, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 3:10 PM PT — Friday, January 31, 2020

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency in response to the coronavirus outbreak. During a briefing at the White House on Friday, Azar said temporary measures will go into effect on Sunday. These measures will include suspending entry of foreign nationals, who pose a risk of transmitting the virus, into the U.S.

At this time, the risk to Americans remains low and we are working to keep it that way,” he said. “We will continue our work to monitor, respond to and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.”

The secretary also said any Americans returning from China’s Hubei province will be under a mandatory 14 day quarantine. Those returning from other parts of China will undergo screening and be on a self-imposed quarantine.

Azar added there will likely be more coronavirus cases in the U.S., including cases of limited person-to-person transmission. More than 200 people have died from the coronavirus in China so far.

FILE – This Wednesday, July 17, 2019, file photo shows American Airlines planes at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)

The fast spreading virus has caused two major U.S. airlines to halt all flights to China. On Friday, Delta announced it was canceling all U.S. flights to China between February 6th and April 30th. American Airlines will halt flights between the two countries until March 27th.

United has canceled several flights between February 1st and 8th, but held back on canceling all flights.

The State Department issued a travel advisory on the same day, which warned Americans to avoid all nonessential travel to China.

“By imposing temporary travel restrictions on China, the president has taken decisive action to protect Americans against the Wuhan coronavirus,” stated Sen. Tom Cotton. “I commend the administration for taking the situation seriously and erring on the side of caution.”

READ MORE: World Health Organization Declares Coronavirus Outbreak A Global Health Emergency

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