Five U.S. airports have begun screening for a new coronavirus that is believed to have caused the deaths of at least six people and impacted hundreds more in China.
Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, John F. Kennedy in New York, Los Angeles International, and San Francisco International, have all begun, or will start this week, screening for the virus.
The screenings are starting after the first case of the virus in the U.S. was confirmed this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A Washington state resident who had just returned from Wuhan, China, was confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV infection, the CDC said.
According to the CDC, the “patient sought care at a medical facility in the state of Washington, where the patient was treated for the illness. Based on the patient’s travel history and symptoms, healthcare professionals suspected this new coronavirus. A clinical specimen was collected and sent to CDC overnight, where laboratory testing yesterday confirmed the diagnosis.”
The plan is for all travelers coming in from Wuhan to be redirected to one of those five airports providing the screenings before being allowed to continue on to their final destination. There, those passengers will get an initial screening, which involves taking a temperature to determine if he or she needs to be set aside for additional tests, which may take up to a day to complete.
According to the Washington Post, the CDC and the U.S. transportation agencies, along with the airlines, are still working on logistics to accomplish the screening, which could create a “logistical nightmare” for airlines and passengers.
“This is a rapidly evolving situation. CDC will continue to update the public as circumstances warrant,” the CDC wrote in its message on Wednesday. The CDC also said that while the virus is of concern, it “continues to believe the risk of 2019-nCoV to the American public at large remains low at this time.”