The Latest: Long lines at US airports as travelers screened
The Latest on the world’s coronavirus pandemic, which has infected more than 150,000 people and killed more than 5,700. The disease for most people causes only mild or moderate symptoms. For some, it can cause more severe illness.
Travelers returning to the U.S. from Europe have been greeted with hourslong waits for required medical screenings at airports.
While American citizens, green card holders and some others are allowed to return to the U.S. amid new European travel restrictions, they’re being funneled to 13 U.S. airports where they’re subject to health screenings and quarantine orders.
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf says the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is trying to add additional screening capacity and work with airlines to expedite the process. In tweets posted early Sunday morning, he said it takes about a minute per screening.
Videos and photos posted to social media showed packed, winding lines of returning travelers. On Twitter, airports like Dallas/Fort Worth and Chicago O’Hare acknowledged the delays and asked for patience.
South Korea’s president has declared southeastern parts of the country hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak as “special disasters zones,” a designation that makes residents there eligible for emergency relief, tax benefits and other state financial support.
President Moon Jae-in’s office says he on Sunday approved a proposal by his prime minister to declare the Daegu city and some areas in the southeastern Gyeongsang province as such disaster zones.
It’s the first time for South Korea to declare any area a special disaster zone due to an infectious disease. Past disaster zone designations were declared for areas stricken by typhoons, floods and other national disasters.
South Korea has so far reported 8,162 coronavirus cases, about 88% of them in the southeastern region. More than 830 people have recovered.
Australia’s prime minister says all travelers arriving in the country will have to self-isolate for 14 days to try and stem the spread of the new coronavirus.
The measures will begin from midnight Monday Australian east coast time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement Sunday after a phone hookup with the leaders of Australian states and territories leaders under a new national cabinet meeting.
Morrison told reporters in Sydney that the measures are indefinite and will be reviewed periodically.
Morrison also banned all cruise ships from docking in Australian ports for at least 30 days.
The measures are similar to what New Zealand announced on Saturday.
Just across the Hudson River from New York City, a New Jersey city is imposing a curfew on residents amid the virus outbreak.
Hoboken residents must stay in their homes from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. beginning Monday, a daily curfew that’s among the first and most far-reaching such measures taken in the U.S.
Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla announced Saturday night that exceptions will be made for emergencies and people required to work.
He also said bars and restaurants can only offer takeout and delivery services. Bars that don’t serve food will shut down altogether Sunday.
New Jersey has seen 69 virus cases statewide and two virus-related deaths.
In New Zealand, passengers aboard a cruise ship in the South Island tourist town of Akaroa are not being allowed off the vessel while three passengers are tested for the new coronavirus.
Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said Sunday that one of the passengers on the Golden Princess is being treated as a suspected case because that person has developed symptoms of the disease and is a close contact of another person who has been confirmed as having contracted COVID-19.
Bloomfield says they should get the test results on Monday, and that officials are considering their response should the case be confirmed.
He says one lesson from observing problems with the virus spreading on other cruise ships is to avoid leaving everybody on board. Bloomfield didn’t elaborate on what form any response might take.
The news came just one day after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the country was banning cruise ships from entering its waters as it took a more aggressive approach to COVID-19. The Golden Princess was already in New Zealand at the time Ardern made her announcement.
The cruise ship departed from Melbourne, Australia. An Akaroa cruise schedule indicates the ship was expected to have about 2,600 passengers and 1,100 crew.
Follow AP coverage of the virus outbreak at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak
The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.