U.S. takes steps to prepare for pandemic as global coronavirus cases rise

TOPSHOT - A medical worker wears protective clothing as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus as she waits for a security guard to open a gate before moving an incubator between buildings at a hospital in Beijing on February 21, 2020. - An eruption of new virus cases in South Korea, Iran and Chinese hospitals and prisons rekindled concerns on February 21 about the spread of a deadly disease that has killed more than 2,200 people. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP) (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

As global concerns over the coronavirus outbreak grow, the U.S. is taking steps to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

Health authorities are closely monitoring the spread of the virus — not only in China, where the outbreak began and where the vast majority of the nearly 77,000 cases have been diagnosed — but also in the growing number of cases in other countries. By definition, a pandemic is an epidemic on more than one continent.

In the U.S., the number of confirmed cases rose to at least 34, as a number of evacuated individuals from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive.

Several other Americans who were on board the ship have been diagnosed and hospitalized in Japan, according to the CDC. As of Friday afternoon, there were no plans to evacuate those patients. The U.S. Department of State said it will not rescue other Americans who choose to go on cruises in Asia.

“Such repatriation flights do not reflect our standard practice, and should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens,” Ian Brownlee, an executive within the Department of State, said during a media briefing Friday.

On its website, the department has warned Americans to reconsider any planned cruises to or within Asia, saying such trips “may be impacted by travel restrictions affecting their itineraries or ability to disembark, or may be subject to quarantine procedures implemented by the local authorities.”

The number of U.S. coronavirus cases is almost certain to grow, as thousands of people who’ve traveled recently to China are quarantining themselves voluntarily in their homes for 14 days and monitoring for symptoms.

Read more : NBC News


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