(CNN) – General travel restrictions related to Wuhan’s coronavirus are now in effect at US airports, but there are still doubts about how the new rules will apply.
“Everyone has been trying to clarify the travel ban. There were questions in the row like ‘How is this going to work? What will be the procedures? ’And‘ What are the details of a quarantine? ’” An official from a major West Coast airport told CNN.
The airport where this official works is one of the 11 air terminals designated for the coronavirus detection tests and the possible self-quarantine under the new rules that came into effect on Sunday afternoon.
The West Coast airport official expressed concern that this air terminal had not prepared for a large number of potentially ill people.
“We have identified a couple of spaces in the airport facilities that we can block and thus contain people,” the source said, adding that training scenarios generally only involve preparing for a small number of patients.
More than 20,000 cases of Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including 11 in the United States. At least 427 people have died from the virus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak as a public health emergency of international concern.
The United States began implementing travel restrictions on Sunday in an effort to contain the outbreak. The plan includes temporarily denying entry to foreign citizens who visited China in the 14 days prior to their arrival in the United States. Meanwhile, US citizens who have been in the Chinese province of Hubei, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, in the two weeks prior to their return to the United States, will be subject to a mandatory quarantine up to 14 days before their return, according to the new rules.
US citizens returning from the rest of mainland China in the previous 14 days will undergo health screenings at selected ports of entry and face up to 14 days of self-controlled quarantine, according to the plan.
Flights that transport US citizens who have traveled to China are being redirected to John F. Kennedy in New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Honolulu, Dallas, Detroit, Newark and Washington Dulles.
Local officials criticize ‘hurried work’
Some leaders in those areas are still working to understand and implement the plan.
Hawaii said it is still looking for places to house quarantined people if necessary, but military bases will probably be the option.
“We will be prepared. We are in this 24/7 to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to keep our people safe, ”Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Josh Green told CNN affiliate KITV in an interview on Sunday.
“We never like hurried work and that is what the federal government did to us just by announcing this on Friday,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters, adding that the city is implementing additional tests and mobilizing first responders, but that “there is a need for clear operational guidance” and that federal authorities “need everyone to be on the same page.”
“The application of local law, local support should not be on the front line without a clear federal mandate on these nuanced questions that come from the mandate to quarantine people who come from the particular province,” Lightfoot said. “And also for people who are supposed to self-quarantine, what does that mean?”
A Canadian citizen was rejected at the border
At least one person has already been rejected under the new rules. A Canadian citizen was returned at the northern border, interim National Security Assistant Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said Monday.
“Today we are just beginning to see results of implementation,” said Cuccinelli. In addition, the Coast Guard kept a ship on the high seas in Puget Sound until the 14-day period passed and no passenger showed symptoms.
It is not clear if someone else has been returned as part of this new regulation.
A father hopes to meet his wife and children in California
Kenneth Burnett is a resident of San Diego. His wife, Yanjun Wei, his 3-year-old son Rowan and his 1-year-old daughter Mia were trapped in Wuhan, China, due to the outbreak of coronavirus.
Burnett was supposed to join his family to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but they closed the city, he told CNN. Wei told her that she and her children had been locked in a high-rise apartment.
“It’s frightening. It is very dramatic to close a city of 50 million people. You think that if that can happen, what else can happen? ”Said Burnett.
Burnett and Wei had been trying to contact the State Department and the US Embassy in China for help, and now Burnett said the three are provisionally scheduled to fly on the next evacuation flight.
“We believe that my wife and children will get seats, but basically they will not guarantee anything. They will say that the Chinese authorities may not allow it. We know that other countries have not had some of these problems. We feel like other countries have not felt this problem, ”he said.
China says the United States is fueling mass hysteria
The United States issued a Level 4 travel alert warning residents not to travel to China, adding that most commercial airlines have reduced or suspended flights to and from the country.
A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday accused the US government of responding inappropriately to the outbreak and fueling mass hysteria.
“Most countries appreciate and support China’s efforts to fight the new coronavirus, and we understand and respect them when they adopt or improve quarantine measures at the border entrance,” said the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying
“But in the meantime, some countries, the United States in particular, have reacted inappropriately, which certainly goes against the advice of WHO.”
– Christina Maxouris, Holly Yan and Geneva Sands of CNN contributed to this report.