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More than 11,800 people in China have been diagnosed with coronavirus, the country’s health experts confirm; U.S. to deny entry to foreign nationals who recently visited China and quarantine returning Americans

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared the coronavirus a public health emergency in the U.S. on Jan. 31. (Video: Reuters)

The United States announced Friday it would be taking new measures to combat a coronavirus outbreak, including denying entry to foreign nationals who had recently visited China and imposing 14-day quarantines on American citizens returning from mainland China.

More than 11,800 people have been diagnosed with the rapidly spreading virus. More than 250 have died, all of them in China. The State Department told Americans not to travel there and advised those who are already there to consider leaving.

Following a quarantine order issued Friday, which government officials said was last used in the 1960s, evacuees held at a base in California will have their movements tightly controlled for 14 days after they left China because health experts are still uncertain about how readily the virus spreads.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

The latest: The CDC has loosened many of its recommendations for battling the coronavirus, a strategic shift that puts more of the onus on individuals, rather than on schools, businesses and other institutions, to limit viral spread.

Variants: BA.5 is the most recent omicron subvariant, and it’s quickly become the dominant strain in the U.S. Here’s what to know about it, and why vaccines may only offer limited protection.

Vaccines: Vaccines: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 12 and older get an updated coronavirus booster shot designed to target both the original virus and the omicron variant circulating now. You’re eligible for the shot if it has been at least two months since your initial vaccine or your last booster. An initial vaccine series for children under 5, meanwhile, became available this summer. Here’s what to know about how vaccine efficacy could be affected by your prior infections and booster history.

Guidance: CDC guidelines have been confusing — if you get covid, here’s how to tell when you’re no longer contagious. We’ve also created a guide to help you decide when to keep wearing face coverings.

Where do things stand? See the latest coronavirus numbers in the U.S. and across the world. The omicron variant is behind much of the recent spread.

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