Buchanan Calls for Suspension of Flights from China
WASHINGTON – Congressman Vern Buchanan today urged the White House to suspend all flights entering the United States from China after the World Health Organization designated the Coronavirus a global health emergency.
“We should be taking all reasonable precautions,” Buchanan said, noting that China is the epicenter of the deadly virus. “Temporarily restricting travelers from China is a reasonable response to this growing threat.”
Under current law, the secretary of the Department of Transportation may suspend air travel to and from a foreign country if “a condition exists that threatens the safety or security of passengers, aircraft, or crew” and that the suspension is in the public interest. In 2018, the U.S. suspended air travel to and from Venezuela due to unrest and violence.
Buchanan noted that British Airways has announced it will temporarily suspend flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing. The congressman on Tuesday called on federal officials to declare a public health emergency that would allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to tap into millions of dollars in federal funding to combat the outbreak.
The World Health Organization defines a public health emergency as an “extraordinary event” that poses a serious threat to other counties through the spread of disease and may require a coordinated international response.
According to the CDC, the United States has confirmed its sixth case of the coronavirus and recently identified the first person-to-person transmission of the virus. The number of patients under investigation in the U.S. has nearly doubled since the end of last week. Former FDA Administrator Scott Gottlieb cautioned that “global spread appears inevitable. So too are the emergence of outbreaks in the U.S.”
As the deadly outbreak escalates, the State Department and CDC increased their travel advisories to include all regions of China. The State Department issued a level three warning for Americans to “reconsider travel” and the CDC issued their highest level warning saying to avoid nonessential travel to China.
The coronavirus has infected more people than the 2003 SARS epidemic, which sickened roughly 8,100 people across the globe over nine months. As of Thursday, there are at least eight cases in four countries, outside of China, of human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus.