WASHINGTON -- The Defense Department is working with other government agencies in responding to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus, named 2019-nCoV, that was first detected in Wuhan City, in China's Hubei province and which continues to expand, according to the CDC's website.
Chinese health officials have reported thousands of infections with 2019-nCoV in China, with the virus reportedly spreading from person to person in many parts of that country. Infections with 2019-nCoV, most of them associated with travel from Wuhan, also are being reported in a growing number of international locations, including the United States, according to the CDC.
March Air Reserve Base in California and DOD stand ready to provide housing support to Department of Health and Human Services personnel as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including State Department employees, their families and U.S. citizens evacuated from Wuhan, Alyssa Farah, DOD press secretary, said in a statement today.
"DOD has assessed this support will not negatively impact readiness or critical operations, and we stand ready for their arrival," she stated.
HHS is responsible for all care of the evacuees, she noted. Therefore, DOD personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees, and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing.
Should routine monitoring of the evacuees identify ill individuals, HHS has procedures in place to transport them to a local civilian hospital, she continued.
"DOD will work closely with our interagency partners and continue to monitor the situation," Farah said in her statement. The department's primary responsibility at this time is the safety of our force, our families and our base communities."
The CDC noted on its website that it is closely monitoring the situation and working with the World Health Organization and state and local public health partners to respond to this emerging public health threat and contain it.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats and bats, according to the CDC. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread. That was the case with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronaviruses