What travel ban? Report states 430,000 people traveled from China to US since coronavirus outbreak began

According to a report, most of these people traveled to the US from China in direct flights and there was no serious screening at the airports


                            What travel ban? Report states 430,000 people traveled from China to US since coronavirus outbreak began
Donald Trump (Getty Images)

Over 400,000 people have traveled from China to the US on direct flights since the time when coronavirus surfaced for the first time with nearly 40,000 arriving in two months after President Donald Trump put restrictions on travel. Besides, more than 1,300 direct passenger flights and 381,000 travelers arrived in the US from China in January and a quarter of them were Americans. 

According to a report in the New York Times, 430,000 people traveled from China to the US since the deadly virus emerged and most of these people traveling in direct flights arrived at major airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Newark, Seattle and Detroit. 

The US is the most affected nation in the world today with 337,274 people testing positive which is over 26 percent of the total affected worldwide. Over 9,600 have died in the country which is the third heaviest tally after Italy (15,887) and Spain (12,641). 

The first case of coronavirus was reported in the city of Wuhan in China in 2019 end and it soon started to spread rapidly globally. 

People navigate through Miami International Airport amid coronavirus fears on March 15, 2020 in Miami, Florida. (Getty Images)

Over the last week, flights from Beijing continued to arrive in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles and they carried mainly Americans and some others who were not included under the restriction that was placed on February 2. Since then, 279 flights have come to the US from China.

These revelations run counter to Trump’s claim that his travel measures kept China at a distance and praise for his administration getting into action to implement the guidelines “very early”. 

The travel ban came too late?

The Times report cited data to suggest the ban on travel may have happened too late even though a section of public health officials reported that the coronavirus entered the US as asymptomatic. The first confirmed case in the US was identified on January 20 and the situation has plummeted with time. 

No traveler from China was made to face health screening in the first half of January and it started around the middle of the month. But the screenings were initially being done on people who arrived from Wuhan and at the airports in LA, SF and NY. 

By the time the screening protocol was in place, around 4,000 people had already entered the US from Wuhan and the protocol would include all passengers from China two weeks later. 
 
The Times also quoted passengers who came from China into the US and underwent screenings but sounded little optimistic about the process.

“'I was surprised at how lax the whole process was,” Andrew Wu, 31, who arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from Beijing this month, was quoted as saying by the Times. “The guy I spoke to read down a list of questions, and he didn’t seem interested in checking out anything.”

Sabrina Fitch, 23, also made a similar claim. She said she, along with 40 other passengers, gave their temperatures twice and were told to complete forms about their travel and health. “Besides looking at our passports, they didn’t question us like we normally are questioned,” Fitch, who flew from China to Kennedy International Airport in New York last month, was quoted as saying.

“So it was kind of weird, because everyone expected the opposite, where you get a lot of questions. But once we filled out the little health form, no one really cared.”

Besides those arriving in direct flights, there were also people who came to the US from China via other countries. Sources in the Department of Homeland Security said those travelers made up a quarter of those who came from China. It also claimed that the president’s travel restrictions saw the number of passengers from China getting reduced by around 99 percent. 

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