January 28, 2020 / 11:26 PM / 24 days ago

White House holds off on suspending China-U.S. flights amid virus outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Passengers leave LAX after arriving from Shanghai, China, after a positive case of the coronavirus was announced in the Orange County suburb of Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ringo Chiu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Tuesday opted not to suspend flights from China to the United States as it discussed ways to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, sources briefed on the matter told Reuters.

The Trump administration told U.S. airlines after a meeting that it was not taking the step of canceling flights, airline and government officials told Reuters.

The administration is holding daily meetings on the coronavirus and has considered a wide range of potential options. Two U.S. officials said the administration had not taken any options off the table, including a temporary ban on flights, if public health data supported the move.

On Monday, Republican Senator Tom Cotton urged the administration to immediately halt commercial flights from China to the United States.

Airlines including United Airlines Holdings Inc have said they are canceling some flights to China as demand has fallen sharply, and global companies have told their employees not to travel on deepening fears over the spread of the flu-like virus.

The coronavirus that originated in the city of Wuhan has killed 132 people in China and spread across the world, rattling financial markets.

The United States and other countries have warned their citizens that they should reconsider visiting China.

The Centers for Disease Control said on Tuesday the Trump administration was expanding screening for the virus at 20 U.S. airports.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru, David Shepardson in Washington and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O'Brien

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