The US health authorities said Friday that a mandatory 14-day quarantine has been established for 195 Americans who were evacuated last Wednesday from the city of Wuhan (China), the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.
This means that this group of people will remain at the March Air Air Base in Riverside, California, during that period of time to confirm that they have not been infected with the "2019-nCoV" virus, which in China has already affected almost 10,000 people and caused 213 deaths, according to the authorities of the Asian country.
The Americans landed on a ship chartered by the State Department on Wednesday and were checked and evaluated by medical personnel at "every step of the way, even before takeoff."
The group had voluntarily remained at the military base, and since that day they had been permanently monitored, with laboratory tests, temperature controls and observation of respiratory symptoms by federal officials.
This Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in use of powers given by federal law, has imposed mandatory quarantine on the group, in what is an unusual measure taken by this federal agency.
"While we recognize that this is an unprecedented action, we face an unprecedented public health threat," said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC during a conference call.
According to the health official, this quarantine represents the first federal order of this type in 50 years.
The severity of the situation in China "suggests significant mortality associated with this disease," said Messonnier, who acknowledged that in the US they take measures "as if it were the next pandemic," although he said that is not the case.
In the United States, six cases of the so-called Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed so far, the last one released on Thursday and the first one to be local.
This is the husband of the 60-year-old woman living in Chicago who became ill after traveling to China last December, according to the CDC.
In addition to the two confirmed cases in Chicago, two others have been registered in the Los Angeles metropolitan area (California), one in Arizona and another in Seattle, in the state of Washington.
There are likely to be more 2019-nCoV cases in the U.S. In the coming days and weeks, including "greater local spread," the CDC said Thursday, which has recommended avoiding all "non-essential" trips to China.
To try to tackle the situation, the country's authorities ordered to check passengers arriving from China at 20 airports in the national territory, which together receive 90% of passengers from the Asian country.
To this measure we must add that several airlines have already announced that they will cancel routes with China, the last one Delta, which today announced that it will temporarily suspend all its flights to China scheduled between February 6 and April 30.