There are holes in Trump's 'strong wall' to stop COVID-19 from China

President Donald Trump repeatedly attributed the February ban on mainland China to his signature move against the coronavirus pandemic.    President Donald Trump has repeatedly banned travelers to China in his signature move against the progress of the coronavirus pandemic - a "strong wall" that he said would only allow American citizens inside.

President Donald Trump repeatedly attributed the February ban on mainland China to his signature move against the coronavirus pandemic.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly banned travelers to China in his signature move against the progress of the coronavirus pandemic - a "strong wall" that he said would only allow American citizens inside.

But the Trump wall is like a sieve.

The exemption is for thousands of residents of parts of China, Hong Kong, and Macau. Attempts have been made to identify American residents returning from mainland China with defects and broken communications.

According to the Department of Commerce's travel entry records and analysis of private aviation data obtained by the Associated Press, in the first three months after the ban, some 8,000 Chinese citizens and foreign residents of Hong Kong and Macao boarded more than 600 commercial and private aircraft. I entered. Imposed

According to an email from the Internal State Government, the system means that at least 1,600 people are lost and tracked in the first few days when US residents flying from the mainland arrive at US airports. System monitoring. AP Received.

Trump's continued travel ban on China, along with a travel ban for European countries and a new ban from Brazil, which went viral last month, remains the administration's first defense against the foreign sources of the epidemic.

'We've done a great job on coronaviruses, including the ban in China,' Trump tweeted last week. "We've saved the lives of millions of Americans!"

On January 31, Trump announced a preliminary travel ban on non-U.S. Residents, most recently in mainland China. His actions came just weeks after Chinese authorities spread a newly contagious and deadly virus through the city of Wuhan.

Travelers from Hong Kong and Macau are exempt from that ban and do not face the necessary screening and detention procedures for Americans and others returning from the mainland of Wuhan and China.

Flight records for the international aviation tracking company FlightAware AP show that in February, more than 5,600 Chinese and foreign nationals from the two administrative regions entered the US. These totals fell to 2,100 in March and only 150 in April. Trade department travel admission records.

There is no clear evidence that a small but steady stream of people from Hong Kong and Macau introduced COVID-19 cases within the U.S. in January or four months, but the exemption "certainly emphasizes the motive of the ban," said Dr. Ronald Waldman, professor of global health at George Washington University.

Waldman, who served as the International Controller for Disease Control and Prevention during the outbreak of cholera in Africa in the 1990s, said travel restrictions could temporarily halt the movement of the virus. He said such measures "slow down the transmission and buy your time, but they must be properly structured and follow other strong measures."

Hong Kong struggled to reduce the spread of influenza in the 2000s, but in recent months has been praised for stringent health care, which has reduced its virus caseload in the wake of the Wuhan fires. But when China rescues Hong Kong from a travel ban, the Trump administration tells authorities that Hong Kong's anti-virus regime will succeed, or that the infected traveler will travel to the US from Chinese territory.

Any agency not involved in repealing and announcing China's bans - the National Security Council, the State Department, the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services - will openly comment on why Hong Kong and Macau are exempt. In a brief statement, the State Department said it would not "comment on internal policy decisions" and deferred to the White House.

The White House has not responded to repeated requests for clarity.

Officials familiar with the internal negotiations held in late January before the Chinese embargo said they were concerned that the widespread ban would hurt trade talks and hurt the travel industry. The official said the idea was to impose a "surgical" ban, which would limit disruption.

Another administration official noted that the decision to impose a travel ban came in January after hundreds of passengers from the US entered China. The same month, the Commerce Record shows that more than 12,700 people from the two Chinese regions entered the US.

Officers were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Hong Kong and Macau are given preferential economic and commercial treatment from the US because of their economic importance and their status as independent enclaves in the Chinese orbit.

According to a 2019 State Department report on Hong Kong, more than 1,300 American corporations, including nearly every major US financial institution, "have hundreds of billions of dollars in assets." Macau is an island of world-renowned casinos, owned by some American companies.

In the 1990s, former Hong Kong General Richard Boucher, Consul General of Hong Kong, said that under the Hong Kong Policy Act passed by Congress in 1992, "we have long regarded Hong Kong as a separate jurisdiction.

When Trump's China travel ban came into effect on February 2, at least 15 new coronavirus cases have already been discovered in Hong Kong, with one death, and seven more in Macau. The earliest Macau cases were in Wuhan.

As of this week, there have been 1,248 cases and seven deaths and 46 cases in Macau in the former British colony. Even with those low sums, Hong Kong has struggled with at least three spikes in COVID-19 cases: in late February. Another one in mid-March, an increase of 130 cases in the last two weeks.

Hong Kong's virus boom has sent a series of warnings to Americans considering flights to Hong Kong to both the CDC and the State Department - easing the continuing travel ban that would allow passengers from Hong Kong and Macau to enter the work country.

"Once we see that human transmission is important to human broadcasting, it's not just that, hey, there's something going on at what we call a level. Right now, it's Hong Kong," CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield testified at a Feb. 27 hearing.

The agency's highest alert level has been raised since the CDC warned Hong Kong and Macau that Americans should "avoid all possible travel." Separately, a low-altitude warning from the Foreign Ministry has urged Hong Kong travelers to "be careful".

Since that time, there has been a change. Hong Kong has banned American citizens and other international passengers from flying, as more than 2.7 million Americans tested positive and more than 128,000 died of COVID-19.

If the flow of Americans to Hong Kong and Macau was stopped, the flow of Americans and others returning to the US from China and the mainland would have been uninterrupted. And the program that tests them has real problems.

Federal health officials are planning tens of thousands returning from 11 airports from China for health checks over several weeks. CDC is constrained by properties. Others are allowed to go their way but are supervised by state and local health departments, who are responsible for advising them to separate themselves within two weeks to contact commuters within 72 hours, and to see if they have developed symptoms.

The system is defective, to begin with. Travelers can choose to receive information from the CDC, and six have done so: Georgia, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, Arizona, and Illinois. For stopping states, the CDC deactivated bus notifications. This is done without flagging or tracking travelers arriving from China's mainland to their state.

At that time, a robust test and contact tracing effort could be made to prevent the spread of the virus from China and travelers from the mainland, according to a CDC postmortem.

But the effort soon turned into problems.

Immediately after the program began, on February 6, a CDC employee told several local health officials that "words are leaking across the state through screening systems and airports," according to an email obtained by APC. Public Records Request. "It's not right, but it's just getting started."

"There was no screening for an aircraft," another email between New Hampshire officials said on February 7.

The CDC said there was no record that the completed flights had not been tested. But if the Department of Homeland Security fails to send that information to the CDC, it is not known if all the flights were missed.

According to an email on February 10, New Hampshire state officials have started receiving calls from people who have recently returned, but they are unaware of the matter.

New Hampshire officials said people who called on the grounds that they were being monitored by local health departments were constantly coming to report their visit. He said it "took some time" for states to set up the process of traveling with passenger information.

CDC spokesman Scott Pauli said the agency did not have enough information from customs officials with Homeland Security, which is responsible for collecting passenger data at airports.

"The records are not quality, and the data is not enough to do anything with anyone," Pauli told the AP.

The CDC said it tested 26,000 Chinese travelers in February. The agency acknowledged that the data problems provided thousands of information not to be sent to state health departments. Because of these issues, the CDC has issued a rule that airlines must report passenger data directly to the agency during a public health crisis.

The CDC reported that despite the breakdown in notified states, at the time, travel screening was just one of many infection control measures. 14-day detention is mandatory for all travelers and anyone at risk of a virus in the city of Wuhan.

But even if the information is sent to the states, the information is not reliable, which has frustrated local authorities, who are concerned about speeding up with them to prevent any spread.

"There are a lot and a lot of bad information," said Frances Phillips, Maryland's deputy secretary for public health services.

Data are bad telephone numbers, myths and people claim they have never been to China. According to internal notes shared between California state health officials, the agency told local officials that they were confident the CDC could not verify the information.

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