Washington, Sep 22
Xavier Becerra, Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has declared a public health emergency for Puerto Rico due to the severe flooding caused by hurricane Fiona which made landfall in the American territory earlier this week.
Under the declaration issued on Wednesday, the HHS haas deployed a 15-person health and medical task force from its National Disaster Medical System and a 10-person incident management team to Puerto Rico.
"The declaration follows President Biden Biden's disaster declaration and gives the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) beneficiaries and their health care providers and suppliers greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs," the Department said in a statement.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, Becerra said: "We will do all we can to assist officials with responding to the impacts of Hurricane Fiona and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support."
"We are working closely with territory health authorities and our federal partners and stand ready to provide additional public health and medical support."
Hurricane Fiona made landfall on Puerto Rico on Sunday as a Category 1 hurricane, bringing heavy rain, catastrophic damage, and an island-wide blackout.
Localised flash and urban flooding due to swells continue to affect the island, which has over 3 million residents.
More than 1 million customers in Puerto Rico were still without power as of Wednesday evening, according to poweroutage.us.
Fiona, which has strengthened into a Category 4 storm, is approaching Bermuda, according to the US National Hurricane Center.
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