Story at a glance

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement Tuesday.
  • It came as the World Health Organization announced an agreement with China to bring in international experts.
  • At least 106 people have died, and more than 4,500 cases of the virus have been reported in China.

The United States is offering to send a team of health experts to China to help in containing the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said at a briefing Tuesday that the Trump administration has offered China’s minister of health to send a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) team to help with the public health response to the outbreak. 

“We are urging China that more cooperation and transparency are the most important steps you can take toward a more effective response,” Azar said. 

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Azar said the assistance was offered directly or in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO), but U.S. officials have yet to get the go-ahead to do so. 

Meanwhile, WHO announced an agreement with China Tuesday to bring in international experts, but it is not clear whether American officials will be involved. 

Azar was made aware of the WHO announcement by reporters during the briefing Tuesday, and said “obviously, if that is the case, [I’m] delighted with that news...and assuming CDC personnel would be part of that.” 

So far, at least 106 people are dead, and more than 4,500 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed in mainland China, as nearly 60 million people are under partial or full lockdowns in Chinese cities. 

Outside of China, there are more than 70 confirmed cases in 17 places, including at least five in the United States. The CDC has also raised its travel precautions for China to its highest level, and the U.S. has expanded screenings of the virus to 20 airports. At least 110 U.S. citizens are being closely monitored for symptoms of the virus. 

Azar said the Trump administration has no current plans to declare a public health emergency, and that the overall risk to Americans is low.

Published on Jan 28, 2020