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Flights from China to Houston canceled as new U.S. travel restrictions go into place

U.S. health officials restricting the number of arrival airports for flights out of China in an effort to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

HOUSTON — New travel restrictions went into effect Sunday at 4 p.m. central time. No commercial flights from China will touchdown in Houston until the new coronavirus is under control. Inbound flights from China now only cleared to land at these 11 major U.S. airports: (JFK), New York; (ORD), Illinois; (SFO), California; (SEA), Washington; (HNL), Hawaii; (LAX), California; (ATL), Georgia; (EWR), New Jersey; (DFW), Texas; (DTW), Michigan and (IAD),   Washington D.C.

DFW is the only Texas airport on the list.

"Anytime we have a new virus agent it's unknown that gets people worried," said tropical disease and vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez.

Hotez has been closely monitoring developments with the coronavirus.

"I see it as enhanced screening that you're going to need to do," Hotez said. "They can't have everyone with the CDC in all the airports, and it wouldn't surprise me if they restricted it down to one or two airports."

The Department of Homeland Security said U.S. citizens who visited China's Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, in the last two weeks will be subject to a mandatory quarantine for up to 14 days.

U.S. citizens returning from other parts of China will undergo health screenings at selected ports of entry and could face up to 14 days of self-monitored quarantine.

Foreign nationals who visited China in the last 14 days are temporarily denied entry into the United States.

"They want to be conservative until we can get our arms around all the information about the virus," Hotez said.

Hotez said it's highly unlikely the U.S. will face the level of outbreak China is experiencing and does think these travel restrictions will help, but told KHOU the situation is still very fluid.

"The bottom line (is), even with these new restrictions, the number of cases will go up," Hotez said. "I can't tell you the number whether it will be dozens or hundreds."

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