The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it is supporting the Department of State-led mission to repatriate U.S. citizens returning from Japan, currently aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
HHS said in a press statement published late on February 15, 2020, the U.S. government recommends that U.S. citizens disembark and return to the USA for further monitoring for infections from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which can cause the COVID-19 disease.
There are approximately 400 U.S. citizens on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship docked near Toyko, Japan.
U.S. Government staff will conduct risk assessments including temperature checks and observation for respiratory symptoms, at every step of the evacuation, such as before takeoff, during the flight, and after arrival.
Americans returning by flights chartered by the State Department will be subject to a 14-day, federal quarantine and be housed at existing federal quarantine sites for repatriated travelers:
- Travis Air Force Base in California
- Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)-Lackland in Texas
Travelers will be monitored during the flight to Travis Air Force Base where all travelers will be screened again.
Any passengers taken onward to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland will be monitored during that flight as well and screened upon arrival in Texas.
In a change from previous evacuation flights, these US citizens returning from Japan will be housed separately from individuals already in quarantine from previous China repatriation flights.
This change to quarantine policy could be related to previous COVID-19 risk assessments in Texas.
Announced on February 13, 2020, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed another COVID-19 infection in the USA.
This patient was among a group of people under a federal quarantine order at JBSA-Lackland, which is located near San Antonio, Texas,
‘This is an evolving situation and every day we learn more about this virus. We continue to believe the risk of exposure to novel coronavirus 2019 to the general public is currently low,’ said this CDC media statement.
‘The U.S. Government is taking these measures to fully assess and care for these repatriated Americans to protect them, their loved ones, and their communities.’
As of February 16, 2020, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any medication for treating the COVID-19 disease. Nor has the FDA approved any vaccine to prevent a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
However, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published on February 13, 2020, the antiviral Remdesivir was reported to reduce the severity of the disease, virus replication, and damage to the lungs of monkeys infected with MERS-CoV.
This is good news since MERS-CoV is closely related to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
These NIH scientists said ‘Our data show that Remdesivir is a promising antiviral treatment against MERS that could be considered for implementation in (human) clinical trials.’
Travel related COVID-19 disease news published by Vax-Before-Travel.