The number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus has spiked over the last 24 hours with more than 4,500 cases detected, up from 2,700 on Monday. At least 106 people have died from the fatal virus.
The outbreak has also prompted the State Department to charter a flight to bring U.S. governmental personnel stationed in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people where the virus is thought to have originated. Some seats on the chartered flight may also be available to some private U.S. citizens with priority given to those people who are most at risk of contracting the virus.
Passengers will be screened by Chinese and U.S. officials before the flight leaves Wuhan. Anyone displaying symptoms of the virus will not be allowed to board the flight. The passengers will also be re-screened when the charter flight lands in Anchorage, Alaska, where it will refuel before taking off for its ultimate destination in Ontario, California.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with the State Department expanded travel advisories to cover all of China due to the outbreak. The CDC issued a level 3 travel warning, its highest level, recommending that people avoid all unnecessary travel to China.
"The outbreak is growing and there is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas,'' the CDC wrote on Twitter.
The State Department issued a level 3 alert for China and urged U.S. citizens planning any travel to China to reconsider their plans. This comes a week after the agency issued a level 4 alert, its highest, for Wuhan, where the virus is thought to have originated. A Level 4 warning means "Do not travel."
Airlines serving China have issued waivers to passengers who do not wish to continue their plans for flying to China, and will allow travelers to postpone or cancel their travel plans without the usual fees. The dates covered by the waivers have expanded as well as the outbreak continues to spread.
Additionally, another 15 airports across the U.S. announced they will begin screening for the virus, bringing the total to 20.
President Donald Trump said in a tweet Monday that the U.S. was closely monitoring the outbreak and had offered help to China's leaders.
"Very few cases reported in the U.S., but strongly on watch. We have offered China and President Xi Jinping any help that is necessary," the president wrote.
At least five cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with all of those having been people who had recently traveled to Wuhan. The confirmed cases were detected in Los Angeles County, and Orange County, California, Maricopa County, Arizona, Everett, Washington, and Chicago, Illinois. Each patient has been placed in isolation and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis before they're released.
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