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After 1st COVID-19 death, Trump announces new screening process

New York, March 1 (IANS) Announcing the first coronavirus linked death in the country, US President Donald Trump has issued new travel restrictions to Iran, Italy and South Korea while maintaining that the overall risk to the US is low but can turn up suddenly.

US is banning travel to Iran and urging Americans not to travel to Italy and South Korea.

Trump also announced new screening procedures for the coronavirus. He said in a tweet that people will be screened for coronavirus upon arriving in the US if they are traveling from high-risk countries.

“Coronavirus: In addition to screening travelers “prior to boarding” from certain designated high risk countries, or areas within those countries, they will also be screened when they arrive in America. Thank you! @VP @SecAzar @CDCgov @CDCDirector,” he said, in a tweet.

“We advise all Americans not to travel to Italy and South Korea”, Vice President Mike Pence said at a hastily convened White House briefing on Saturday afternoon.

Coronavirus has spread to nearly 60 countries, with more than 85,000 people worldwide having contracted the virus and 2,900 have died.

Officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the the first coronavirus victim in the US died in the state of Washington.

The Governor of Washington state has declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

Trump administration health experts leading the US response to coronavirus said there “will be more cases” although the highest risk is mainly to older people with underlying conditions like heart disease, diabetes and obesity, which heighten “respiratory distress” from the virus.

The US currently has more than 60 people who have been infected, most of them repatriated from Wuhan, China or evacuated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

Anthony S. Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained that normal, healthy Americans are at low risk and would typically recover after mild symptoms similar to the annual flu.

Fauci said outliers would always surface and that does not change the US assessment of “low risk” for now.

The first vaccine trials are expected to begin in about two months and it would take a further three months to determine safety and efficacy which means the fastest possible time frame would still be upwards of 6-8 months before a breakthrough, Fauci has said.

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