U.S. declares coronavirus a public health emergency

(SOUNDBITE) ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY, SAYING:

"I have today declared that the coronavirus presents a public health emergency in the United States."

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Friday that the U.S. will halt entry to foreign nationals who have been to China within the last two weeks as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide.

(SOUNDBITE) ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY, SAYING:

"Foreign nationals other than immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who have traveled in China within the last 14 days will be denied entry into the United States for this time/these actions will become effective at 5 PM eastern time Sunday February 2nd."

Azar also said that, starting on Sunday, U.S. citizens who have traveled to China's Hubei Province within the last 14 days will be subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine -- the incubation period of the virus.

The Trump administration will also limit flights from China to seven U.S. airports, including New York City's JFK and Chicago's O'Hare.

But Azar said the risk to the U.S. public from the coronavirus outbreak remained low.

(SOUNDBITE) ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY, SAYING:

"...with these and our previous actions, we are working to keep the risk low."

Public health officials said there were at least seven confirmed cases of the virus in the United States, and at least 191 individuals under investigation for it.

The flu-like virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan and was first identified earlier in January, has resulted in more than 200 deaths in China and more than 9000 infections there.

More than 130 cases have been reported in at least 25 other countries including Britain, Russia and Italy, with Spain confirming it's first case of the virus on Friday.

The State Department on Thursday warned Americans not to travel to China because of the epidemic.

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