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U.S. Extends Coronavirus Travel Restrictions and Warnings, as CDC Upgrades Testing Criteria

March 2, 2020 (EIRNS)—Travel restrictions: Following on the Feb. 2 entry ban on foreign nationals who had been in mainland China in the previous 14 days, the U.S. government instituted on Feb. 29 for a similar entry ban on foreign nationals who had been in Iran within the previous 14 days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging travelers to “avoid nonessential travel” to China, Italy, Iran, and South Korea, and to “practice enhanced precautions” if going to Japan.

The CDC has updated its guidelines for testing individuals. This follows the failure to promptly test a patient in Davis, California, who was not tested despite severe symptoms requiring the use of a ventilator, due to the failure of the CDC’s guidelines, which required some connection to China or someone who was known to have COVID-19. After four days in the hospital without diagnosis, she tested positive for novel coronavirus.  On Feb. 27, the CDC revised its guidelines, calling for the testing of anyone with fever and severe acute lower respiratory illness requiring hospitalization, even if there is no known connection to a source of the virus. Problems in earlier testing kits provided by the CDC have been resolved, and there are now enough kits to test over 75,000 people for the novel coronavirus. The CDC itself operates two laboratories, together capable of testing 350 specimens per day.

On Feb. 29, at a White House press conference including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and the Coronavirus Task Force, Pence reported: “As the President said, we have more than 40 million masks available today. We’ve contracted now with 3M. Thirty-five million more masks per month will be produced, and we’re also going to be working with other manufacturers.”

President Trump remarked on China’s response to the crisis: “Our relationship with China is very good. Maybe it’s closer because of what’s happened here, because it was—you know, in a certain way, this can bring the world closer, if you want to know.  It can really do that.”

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