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With nearly 200 deaths, New York hardest hit by Covid-19 in US; visitors told to self-quarantine

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US authorities on Tuesday urged anyone who has travelled to and from New York City metropolitan area in recent days to self-quarantine for 14 days and closely monitor their condition. This comes over concerns of people carrying coronavirus and “seeding” outbreaks in other parts of the country.

President Donald Trump has, at the same time, doubled down on his resolve to roll back restrictions and have the country “raring to go” by Easter, April 12. The move has fanned a debate that he started on Monday by first suggesting the country could be ready to get back to business. A decision is expected next week.

More than 700 people have died of coronavirus and more than 55,000 people have tested positive in the United States so far, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The continuing surge in cases has prompted the WHO to acknowledge that the United States could potentially be the next epicentre of the outbreak.

New York City has been hit the hardest with 15,597 confirmed cases and 192 deaths, and it is now in danger of “seeding” outbreaks in other parts of the country through travellers.

“For anyone in the New York metropolitan area who has travelled, our task force is encouraging you to monitor your temperature, be sensitive to symptoms,” Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said at a White House news briefing.

“And we are asking anyone who has travelled out of the New York City metropolitan area to anywhere else in the country to self-isolate for 14 days.”

Two leading medical experts on the task force had first made that case citing high incidence of new cases and the danger of travellers and New Yorkers leaving the city for their own safety, carrying it to other areas. There have been cases that suggested infected people have left the city.

Deborah Birx, coordinator of the task force, said because of the high incidence of cases in New York City — 56% of all US cases and 60% of all new cases, 31% mortality — there was a likelihood of people being exposed before leaving the city and they should self-quarantine themselves for the next 14 days “to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread to others, no matter where they have gone, whether it’s Florida, North Carolina, or out to far, far reaches of Long Island”.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease and a member of the task force, added that self-isolation for these people was necessary “because we don’t want that to be another seeding point to the rest of the country, wherever they go”.

These warnings and appeals to people travelling out of New York run contrary to President Trump’s apparent eagerness to end the restrictions and put the country back in business. Trump is getting a push from the experts on the team, including Fauci, who has emerged as the most respected member of the task force.

“You can look at a date, but you got to be very flexible,” Fauci said when asked to comment on the president’s plan to roll back restriction by Easter. “And on a literally day-by-day and week-by-week basis, you need to evaluate the feasibility of what you’re trying to do.”

Stay-at-home orders are in effect in 17 states, affecting 175 million people to slow down and prevent the spread of the virus. All non-essential services have been shut down. People can go out to get grocery, food and medicine or to exercise as long as they maintain safe social distance.


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