President Donald Trump has issued a proclamation, suspending and limiting immigrants and nonimmigrants’ entry to the United States of all aliens who were physically present in China, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau.
The proclamation is the highest precautionary step by the Government of the United States since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Wuhan, China.
Liberia is not directly affected by the proclamation, but health authorities here thru the National Public Health Institute of Liberia say vigilant surveillance is in place at the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County to screen travelers arriving into the country.
At least six Liberian students studying computer science on partial scholarship unrelated to governments’ arrangements in China recently told a live interview with local broadcaster Prime FM in Monrovia they now live in total fear and allegedly being denied access by Chinese dealers to the only supermarket available to buy food.
The students based in Wuhan, China, include Magretta Tarplah from Matadii; Sheikh from Parker Corner, Brewerville; Saah Hilton Johnson, Jr., from Kebbah, Barnerville; Ambrose John Gbormi, Jr., from Bunja Community in Thinkers’ Village, Paynesville; Decontee from New Kru Town; and another male student from Pipeline Road Community in Paynesville. “We are locked up in our dormitory and we [were] told by our school that we are not allowed to get out because of this virus,” Sheikh said on Wednesday morning, 29 January.
According to the United States Embassy near Monrovia, the proclamation takes effect as of 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time, Sunday, February 2, 2020.
“I have also determined that the United States should take all necessary and appropriate measures to facilitate orderly medical screening and, where appropriate, quarantine of persons allowed to enter the United States who may have been exposed to this virus”, says President Trump.
However, section two (2) of the proclamation says these restrictions shall not apply to, among others, any lawful permanent resident of the United States; any alien who is the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; any alien who is the parent or legal guardian of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident is unmarried and under the age of 21; and any alien who is the sibling of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, provided that both are unmarried and under the age of 21.
Other exceptions include any alien who is the child, foster child, or ward of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications; any alien traveling at the invitation of the United States Government for a purpose related to containment or mitigation of the virus; any alien traveling as a nonimmigrant under section 101(a)(15)(C) or (D) of the INA, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(C) or (D), as a crewmember or any alien otherwise traveling to the United States as air or sea crew; any alien seeking entry into or transiting the United States pursuant to an A-1, A-2, C-2, C-3 (as a foreign government official or immediate family member of an official), G-1, G-2, G-3, G-4, NATO-1 through NATO-4, or NATO-6 visa, as well as any alien whose entry to the U.S. would not pose a significant risk of introducing, transmitting, or spreading the virus, as determined by the CDC Director, or his designee.
At the same time, President Trump says nothing in the proclamation shall be construed to affect any individual’s eligibility for asylum, withholding of removal, or protection under the regulations issued pursuant to the legislation implementing the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, consistent with the laws and regulations of the United States.
The United States says it has confirmed cases of individuals who have a severe acute respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus first detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province, People’s Republic of China.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others circulate among animals, including camels, cats, and bats. Animal coronaviruses are capable of evolving to infect people and subsequently spreading through human-to-human transmission, the U.S. Embassy here details, noting that this occurred with both Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and SARS.
It says neighboring jurisdictions have taken swift action to protect their citizens by closing off travel between their territories and China, while on January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the 2019-nCoV outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
“Outbreaks of novel viral infections among people are always of public health concern, and older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk. Public health experts are still learning about the severity of 2019-nCoV. An understanding of the key attributes of this novel virus, including its transmission dynamics, incubation period, and severity, is critical to assessing the risk it poses to the American public. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that the virus presents a serious public health threat.”
The CDC is reported to be closely monitoring the situation in the United States, conducting enhanced entry screening at five (50 United States airports where the majority of travelers from Wuhan arrive.
It is also enhancing illness response capacity at the 20 ports of entry where CDC medical screening stations are located, as well as supporting States in conducting contact investigations of confirmed 2019-nCoV cases identified within the United States.
“The CDC has confirmed that the virus has spread between two people in the United States, representing the first instance of person-to-person transmission of the virus within the United States. The CDC, along with state and local health departments, has limited resources and the public health system could be overwhelmed if sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus occurred in the United States. Sustained human-to-human transmission has the potential to have cascading public health, economic, national security, and societal consequences”, warns the U.S. government.