At a press conference with top health officials today, U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar acknowledged that China is refusing offers of assistance from the U.S. government to send Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials to help contain the outbreak.
Officially, the coronavirus has killed 106 people and sickened thousands worldwide, the vast majority in China’s Hubei Province. Millions remain under quarantine, including the entire city of Wuhan, population 11.2 million.
The Trump administration is expanding screening for coronavirus to 20 major airports and is urging American citizens to reconsider travel to China.
“Americans should not worry about their own safety,” Azar said. “Part of the risk we face is we don’t know everything we need to know about this virus … That does not prevent us from preparing and responding.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said earlier in the day to avoid all non-essential travel to China, expanding its travel warning from the city of Wuhan to the entire country as the coronavirus outbreak worsens.
The briefing, hosted by Azar started at 11:15 a.m. ET at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. CDC Director Robert Redfield and representatives from the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease Director and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases were also on hand to answer questions.
“To better protect the health of the American public during the emergence of this novel coronavirus and based on the evolving information from China, CDC has reassessed its entry strategy,” Redfield said, in explaining the expanded airport screening.
The purpose of the airport screenings is twofold: identifying potentially infected travelers as well as educating the public.