Congressman Bradley Byrne released a video statement calling for an immediate halt of all travel from China to the United States due to concerns about the worsening coronavirus pandemic.
“We are all concerned about the coronavirus,” Congressman Byrne said, “We now have a person to person spread of the virus here in this country; so I have asked the government to halt, at least on a temporary basis, to halt all transportation to or from the country.”
Byrne said that we needed to, “Protect our people that are there, if they have to come back over here then bring thm back, but stop sending any more people from going over there until we get a handle on this.”
As of press time, the Chinese government admits that 386 people have already died from the disease, which has a higher fatality rate than over communicable diseases like influenza. Three thousand Chinese were diagnosed with the disease on Sunday alone.
China has 20,438 diagnosed cases of this, the government said on Tuesday morning. Additionally more than 160 cases have been diagnosed in two dozen other countries, including 11 in the United States.
The City of Wuhan is ground zero of this outbreak. Public health officials warn that this could become a global pandemic. China has built two new hospitals there, staffed with Chinese Army doctors and nurses, one of them in just eleven days, to treat coronavirus patients.
“There’s no sign that it’s getting better,” said Leo Poon, who is the division head of the public health laboratory sciences department at the University of Hong Kong. “We don’t see a pattern of decline, and that’s a problem.”
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. Chinese authorities identified the new coronavirus, which has resulted in thousands of confirmed cases in China, including cases outside Wuhan City. Additional cases have been identified in a growing number of other international locations, including the United States. There are ongoing investigations to learn more,” the CDC said in a statement.
The cases in the U.S. had all been people who had traveled to China until Thursday when the first case of a person in America who got the disease from a traveler from China was diagnosed.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. More than 14,000 people traveled to the United States from China each day in 2019.
Byrne is running for the Senate seat currently held by Doug Jones (D-Alabama). The Republican primary is March 3.
(Original reporting by the New York Times contributed to this report.)