Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar shut down a reporter for a Chinese news outlet Tuesday who claimed China had “contained” the coronavirus within its borders.
Azar made the comment during a Q&A session at a press conference detailing the U.S. response to potential outbreaks. Olivia Zang, a reporter for Chinese outlet Caixin asked whether the U.S. would lessen its travel restrictions due to the supposed “containment,” and instead put travel restrictions on Italy and South Korea due to their outbreaks. She also went on to suggest that calling the disease the “China Coronavirus” was xenophobic. (RELATED: Iran’s Deputy Health Minister Infected With Coronavirus As Country Becomes Epicenter Of Outbreak)
“We intend to keep our travel restrictions regarding China in place,” Azar said. “The virus is still spreading in China. There are still hundreds of case reports per day, if that’s capturing all the information. We’re still seeing dozens of more fatalities reported per day…There is nothing at this point that would indicate a change in our posture toward our aggressive containment measures.”
Azar ignored the suggestion of placing travel restrictions on Italy and South Korea. He did address the reporter’s second question, saying it was important to that Americans understand that the disease has nothing to do with ethnicity, but clarified that none of the restrictions the U.S. has put in place are based on ethnicity. (RELATED: Coronavirus Deaths Surpass 800, Killing More Than SARS)
Azar warned that while the disease is currently contained here, outbreaks in other countries could still transfer to the U.S. He said Americans may face changes to their day-to-day life, such as when the government cancelled school briefly in 2009 for the Swine Flu epidemic.
The press briefing came hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised Americans to prepare for potential outbreaks in their communities.