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Chairman Risch Hears from Leading Global Experts on Coronavirus

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement following a briefing from top U.S. global health experts:

“Today, I convened a briefing from the U.S. government’s leading global health experts tracking this novel coronavirus, now identified as 2019-nCoV. There is a lot that we already know about this virus, and the American people should rest assured that U.S. agencies have experience in managing similar global health threats and are actively applying lessons learned from other outbreaks, including SARS and MERS.

“The CDC has testing capabilities, is actively working to develop an effective vaccine, and screening has been introduced at five U.S. airports. While that screening will not be 100% effective in capturing every traveler who may be infected – especially if they are not sick upon arrival – we know that public awareness and diligence is key to infection control.

“If you have recently traveled to Wuhan, China and develop symptoms of a respiratory infection – such as fever, coughing, and shortness of breath – you should immediately seek medical attention. Tell your doctor’s office in advance that you believe you may have been exposed so they can take effective precautions. For everyone else, remember that this is cold and flu season. Take regular precautions to avoid exposure to illness.”

In December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus – a family of respiratory illnesses ranging in severity from a common cold to pneumonia and death – was detected in Wuhan, China. It has since spread to 30 provinces in China, and travel-related cases have been reported in Japan, Nepal, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam. Notably, at least two travel-related cases already have made their way into the United States, in Chicago and Washington state.

See the Department of State’s full travel advisory for China here.