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Pentagon website adds ‘Spotlight’ page for coronavirus updates

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP)

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). (CDC via AP)

The Defense Department has created a “Spotlight” page on its website to convey latest updates as the novel coronavirus continues to spread, according to a Pentagon release.

The webpage aims “to disseminate the latest information on the outbreak and to highlight coordination efforts with other organizations throughout the U.S. government," the release stated.

The page’s creation follows the release of a guidance letter from Matthew P. Donovan, acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, to military personnel related to the virus.

“The 2019-nCoV outbreak continues, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting several thousand cases worldwide, to include the United States,” the letter stated. “The risk to DOD personnel who do not meet the [Patients Under Investigation] criteria is low.”

The Pentagon has also named four military installations — Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California; Travis Air Force Base, California; Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; and Fort Carson, Colorado — to serve as sites for quarantine of up to 1,000 people.

Four CDC teams have been dispatched to the DOD military installations to prepare for their arrival, Military Times previously reported.

These locations are in addition to March Air Reserve Base, California, which is currently housing 198 federal employees, family members and U.S. citizens, per Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Rath Hoffman.

A statement posted to Twitter from Col. Charles Dockery, commanding officer at MCAS Mirmar, addressed to “Marines, Sailors, and families,” read, “All repatriates going through the quarantine process have been screened multiple times by U.S. medical professionals and do not display symptoms of the coronavirus.”

“Repatriates will be confined throughout quarantine and there will be no contact with DOD personnel,” the statement continued.

The “Spotlight” page will centralize updates and information regarding the virus, which has spread to number over 20,000 cases and 425 deaths in China, according to the latest statistics. The only deaths to have occurred outside mainland China, however, were in the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The United States has 11 confirmed cases.

On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” and the U.S. State Department issued a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” warning for China, citing the disease’s spread. The CDC has also issued a travel advisory, warning against “nonessential travel” to China.

The Pentagon has instructed all personnel to heed State Department and CDC warnings to limit exposure and possible infection.

This story contains information from the Associated Press.