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Sunday, February 5th, 2023

Sen. Markey seeks information from HHS, State Department on coronavirus

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U.S. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) sent letters to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the State Department seeking information on their response to the coronavirus originating out of Wuhan, China.

Respiratory droplets, similar to influenza, can transmit the coronavirus. It has led to 26 deaths in China.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of the virus last Tuesday. A second case was reported on Friday, Jan. 24. A dozen or so others are being tested for the virus. China has placed additional travel restrictions in the country to limit the outbreak.

The U.S. has instituted increased screening of travelers to the U.S. from the affected areas in China. Markey is calling on the HHS to describe how it can use expertise and resources developed in response to the Ebola virus and previous coronavirus outbreaks, such as SARS, to respond to coronavirus.

“Given the quick growth of this outbreak in China, and its expansion across Asia and now to the United States, we need to ensure that our government is prepared for the compounded impact this virus may have during an already active cold and flu season,” Markey wrote to the HHS.

Markey, who serves on the East Asia subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is asking the State Department for information related to Taiwan, which is not part of the World Health Organization but is where vases have been confirmed.

“Taiwan’s continued exclusion [from the WHO] may only exacerbate the deadly consequences of this potential international public health crisis and those to follow in the years to come,” Markey wrote in the letter to the State Department.