Due to fears prompted by the rapidly spreading coronavirus, which originated in China, President Trump issued a proclamation banning immigrant and nonimmigrant travelers from entering the United States who were physically present within the People’s Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is providing housing to quarantine potentially 1,000 people who arrived in the United States from elsewhere, until February 29, 2020. The housing will be provided at four military basis in California, Colorado, and Texas, according to reports. The United States is not alone in banning travel for this reason. Other countries announcing similar restrictions include Australia, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, and Russia. And several major airlines have expanded flight cancellations to and from China and Hong Kong. For example, Delta has suspended flights between the United States and China until at least April 30, 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 travel warning to avoid all nonessential travel to China. The CDC notes that Chinese officials have closed transportation “within and out of Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, including buses, subways, trains, and the international airport. Additional restrictions and cancellations of events may occur.”
The World Health Organization does not support blanket travel restrictions, however, instead recommending health screenings at ports of entry and border crossings. The head of the organization said, “Travel restrictions can cause more harm than good by hindering info-sharing, medical supply chains and harming economies.”
Effective measures to slow or stop the spread of the coronavirus, bolstered by good science, are welcome. We can only hope that official government reactions in the United States and elsewhere do not slide into hysteria.
• Presidential proclamation on coronavirus-related travel ban, https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-suspension-entry-immigrants-nonimmigrants-persons-pose-risk-transmitting-2019-novel-coronavirus/
• CDC travel warning, https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/warning/novel-coronavirus-china
• News article on coronavirus and travel concerns, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-51338899
• News article related to flight cancellations, https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/01/business/american-delta-airlines-coronavirus/index.html
• Delta press release, https://news.delta.com/update-delta-extends-travel-waiver-april-30-following-coronavirus-outbreak