The announcement that Esper and his deputy have been placed under quarantine comes as U.S. authorities have taken tough measures to prevent senior officials from contracting the coronavirus, which has become a global epidemic.
Earlier Sunday, a spokeswoman for the U.S. presidency announced that all people entering the White House, whether ministers, advisers or journalists, would henceforth have to be examined.
"As of Monday morning, the temperature of anyone entering the White House compound will be checked," spokeswoman Goodyer said.
All people in contact with the President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will also be screened, she said.
The famous "West Wing", where the Oval Office and offices of collaborators with the President are located, has a press room and workplaces for some accredited journalists.