About 4,00,000 People Travelled to the US from China before Trump Imposed Covid-19 Travel Ban: The New York Times

President Trump at a news conference with the coronavirus task force at the White House on Saturday.

WITH THE United States struggling to contain novel Coronavirus, The NEW YORK Times, a leading American daily, reports close to 430,000 people arrived in the US on direct flights from China, including thousands who travelled directly from Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, ahead POTUS Trump imposed travel ban. Also, several passengers transited through other countries. Sofia Boza-Holman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said they represented about a quarter of travellers from China. The report said 1,300 direct flights from China to 17 US cities brought back hundreds of thousands of people before President Donald Trump imposed travel restrictions. “Since Chinese officials disclosed the outbreak of a mysterious pneumonia-like illness to international health officials on New Year’s eve, at least 430,000 people have arrived in the United States on direct flights from China, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after President Trump imposed restrictions on such travel, according to an analysis of data collected in both countries, the report  quoted by News 18 says. Testing at the airports and follow-ups with travellers coming from China was not stringent enough in the United States then. During the first half of January, when Chinese officials were underplaying the severity of the outbreak, no travellers from China were screened for potential exposure to the virus. Health screening began in mid-January, but only for a number of travellers who had been in Wuhan and only at the airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, it said. By that time, about 4,000 people had already entered the US directly from Wuhan, the report quoted VariFlight, an aviation data company based in China. The bulk of the 430,000 passengers, who were of multiple nationalities, arrived in January at airports spread across the length and breadth of the US-Los Angles While President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that his travel measures impeded the virus’ spread in the US and we’re the ones that kept China out of here, the NYT report said analysis of the flight and other data shows the travel measures, however effective, may have come too late to have kept China out. Given that health officials now believe that as many as 25 per cent of people infected with the virus may never show symptoms, infectious-disease experts suspect that the virus had been spreading undetected for weeks after the first American case was confirmed in Washington State on January 20.In fact, no one knows when the virus first arrived in the US, The New York Times said. In January, before the broad screening was in place, there were over 1,300 direct passenger flights from China to the United States, according to VariFlight and two American firms, MyRadar and FlightAware.About 381,000 travellers flew directly from China to the United States that month, about a quarter of whom were American, according to data from the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration. The report also added that about 60 per cent of travellers on direct flights from China in February were not American citizens, according to the most recently available government data. Most of the flights were operated by Chinese airlines after American carriers halted theirs. The New York Times says ‘’President Trump on Saturday predicted a surging death toll in what may be “the toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic before also dispensing unproven medical advice. He suggested again that Americans might be able to congregate for Easter Sunday services. There will be a lot of death,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, where he and other American officials depicted some parts of the United States as climbing toward the peaks of their crises. (edited by PKC)

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