By Sola Ogundipe
The Pentagon is preparing military installations too, if necessary, quarantine up to 1,000 people returning to the United States from overseas to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, the Department of Defense announced Saturday.
“On Feb. 1, Secretary of Defense Dr Mark T. Esper approved a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services for housing support for 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel due to the novel coronavirus,” a Pentagon statement explained.
The Pentagon will provide access to multiple facilities capable of housing at least 250 people through Feb. 29.
The facilities selected are located at the 168th Regiment’s Regional Training Institute in Fort Carson, Colorado, Travis Air Force Base and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, and Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
The Department of Defense is only providing housing support, and US military personnel will not come in direct contact with any quarantined individuals, who will not have access to any areas on base other than the quarantine facilities.
The Department of Health and Human Services will handle care, transportation, and security issues.
A University of Massachusetts-Boston student was confirmed Saturday to be the eighth case of coronavirus in the US, one day after officials declared a public health emergency.
On Friday, Jan. 31, the US government declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency. US citizens who were in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital city, within two weeks of their return to the US will be quarantined for 14 days.
Travellers returning from other locations in China will be screened at ports of entry.
Around 200 people who were evacuated out of Wuhan and arrived in the US Wednesday, January 29 have been quarantined at March Air Reserve Base in California.
All foreign nationals who have travelled to China in the last two weeks and aren’t immediate family members of US citizens or permanent residents will be temporarily banned from entering the US.
Also, anyone entering the US who has been in China’s Hubei province in the last two weeks will be subject to a two-week quarantine.
As of Feb. 2, the coronavirus had killed more than 300 people and infected more than 14,000 people in China and in 26 other countries.