Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar today declared the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) a public health emergency and ordered all U.S. citizens returning from the Wuhan, China, region to be quarantined for two weeks. The U.S. State Department yesterday issued a “do not travel” advisory for China due to the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also today updated its interim guidance for health care professionals, expanding the criteria for identifying patients under investigation for novel coronavirus. In a CDC call with clinicians, the agency stressed that its guidance will continue to change over time as more is learned about the outbreak, and urged clinicians to continue to check CDC’s resources for updates. 

CDC also said it issued federal quarantine orders to the 195 U.S. citizens who repatriated to the U.S. from China on Jan. 29 because of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, the first mandatory quarantine in over 50 years. The individuals will be held at the March Air Reserve Base in California for the 14-day quarantine that started when the plane took off from China. CDC said the decision comes after deliberating over data and new information, and because the passengers came from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan. “If we take strong measures now, we may be able to blunt the impact of the virus on the United States,” said Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The World Health Organization reports nearly 10,000 cases worldwide and more than 200 deaths in China. The CDC said the virus does spread from person-to-person, and the New England Journal of Medicine reported a case that seemed to support possible asymptomatic transmission of the infection.

For the latest information and resources on the coronavirus, visit AHA’s webpage.

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