Trump administration considering ban on flights to China as fears grow over coronavirus: report

Trump administration considering ban on flights to China as fears grow over coronavirus: report
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The Trump administration is reportedly considering a ban on travel between China and the U.S. as officials look to contain the coronavirus, which has infected thousands of people and accounted for more than 100 deaths. 

The White House has held talks focused on the possibility of suspending flights to China, but has yet to reach a decision, USA Today reported, citing administration officials. One unidentified official told the newspaper that discussions are ongoing. 

An airline industry official also told CNN that the administration had briefed carriers about how the government was addressing the spread of the coronavirus. A White House official pushed back on that statement, telling The Hill that it "did not call the airlines and hasn’t asked for a suspension of flights between the U.S. and China."

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The coronavirus first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December and has since spread to several countries, including the United States. The virus, which causes and cold and flu-like symptoms, was blamed for at least 132 deaths as of Wednesday morning. More than 6,000 people have been infected, and five cases have been confirmed in the U.S. 

A flight ban could impact three U.S. airlines — United, Delta and American — with nonstop flights to China. United Airlines announced on Tuesday that it would suspend 24 flights bound for China in February, USA Today noted. 

Delta and American have yet to adjust any schedules related to China. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that he was "speaking regularly" with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWinners and losers from the South Carolina debate Five takeaways from the Democratic debate Democrats duke it out in most negative debate so far MORE and White House officials about the coronavirus, CNN reported. He declined to rule out travel restrictions to China as a potential remedy to the situation. 

The State Department and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) earlier this week expanded their travel advisories to encompass all of China. The CDC issued its highest travel warning, urging Americans to avoid nonessential travel to China. The State Department raised its warning to level 3, saying that U.S. citizens should “reconsider travel” to China due to the virus outbreak.