Virus Spreads despite Quarantines, Face Masks and Precautions
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Two evacuation flights of some 550 American citizens from Wuhan, China, are expected to land at military bases in California early Wednesday morning. One flight will head to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and the other is going to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, CNN reported Tuesday.
Start an Emergency & Disaster Management degree at American Military University.
The two flights mark the second U.S. government evacuation of American citizens from China. At the end of January, a chartered aircraft flew 201 diplomats, their families and several others from Wuhan to March Air Force Reserve Base in Riverside County, California. The passengers are being held in quarantine “for an unknown duration,” The Press Enterprise reported.
Three Major US Airlines Curtailing Flights to China
As the virus continues to spread, the three major U.S. airlines said they are curtailing flights to China. American Airlines will suspend flights beginning Friday. Delta and United said they would end flights in early February, The Washington Post said. “All three carriers had previously announced they would reduce the number of flights but would continue to offer service.”
American Airlines announced on Tuesday that it has suspended flights to Hong Kong from both Dallas/Fort Worth and Los Angeles through February 20. The airline attributed the suspension as “due to demand.”
Passengers Arriving from China at Selected US Airports Wear Face Masks
All passengers arriving from China at selected U.S. airports wear face masks. They are carefully screened by health officials as a precaution against being infected and possibly spreading the virus, which can be spread from person to person.
Face masks have become ubiquitous in China and elsewhere in Asia in a so far unsuccessful attempt to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Because the masks are not form-fitting, health officials point out that the virus can enter the body through areas of the skin that are exposed.
"We do not currently recommend the use of face masks for the general American public," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on Friday. "This virus is not spreading in your communities."
China Reports 2,829 New Cases of Coronavirus in Past 24 Hours
However, despite the massive use of face masks, the virus continues to spread rapidly in China. China has confirmed more than 17,000 cases of the coronavirus, an increase from 4,400 cases last week. The so-called Wuhan virus has killed more than 420 Chinese citizens, the Canberra Times reported. That’s more recorded deaths than the 349 people who died in mainland China from the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak of 2002 and 2003.
Chinese health officials on Monday announced an additional “2,829 new cases of the coronavirus had been diagnosed in the past 24 hours alone,” National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., reported.
Hong Kong reported 17 new cases of the coronavirus and the territory’s first death. A 39-year-old man who had spent two days in January in Wuhan, the city where the epidemic originated, died on Tuesday.
Xi Calls Epidemic ‘a Major Test of China’s System and Capacity for Governance’
Chinese president Xi Jinping told Communist Party officials that the coronavirus epidemic is “a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance.”
Xi ordered officials “not to resist orders or let bureaucratism and the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake slow government efforts to bring the outbreak under control.”
Those who disobey the unified command or shirk off responsibilities will be punished,” Xi warned.
Confirmed Coronavirus Cases Now at 11
The number of confirmed cases in the U.S. stands at 11, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, with no deaths reported. The CDC added that 167 suspected cases have proven negative and another 82 incidents are pending final evaluation.
U.S. health officials are urging Americans not to overreact to the coronavirus.
CDC Recommends Taking Precautions
To reduce the chance of spreading any respiratory illness, the CDC recommends taking simple steps such as washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and avoiding close contact with anyone who is sick. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Also:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.