As the Wuhan coronavirus continues to spread, it's a good idea to take more precautions to protect against illness. If you are planning any business travel or perhaps already have travel arrangements coming up in the next few days or weeks, be aware that there are screenings at select U.S. airports. It's a good idea to give yourself extra time in order to avoid extra stress.
While Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says it's not a major threat at this point, there is still the possibility of it growing. Last week five airports began monitoring passengers. At the time of publication, 20 airports in the United States have begun screening passengers.
The 20 airports include:
- Anchorage Ted Stevens International
- Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International
- Boston Logan International
- Chicago O'Hare
- Dallas-Fort Worth International
- Detroit Metropolitan
- El Paso International
- Honolulu International
- Houston George Bush Intercontinental
- Los Angeles International
- Miami International
- Minneapolis-St. Paul International
- New York JFK
- Newark Liberty International
- Philadelphia International
- Puerto Rico's San Juan Airport
- San Diego International
- San Francisco International
- Seattle-Tacoma International
- Washington Dulles International
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these 20 airports are also Quarantine Stations. They are part of a system designed to combat and reduce the spread of disease. As you can see from the list, these stations are located around the country and are also where most international travelers arrive.
The US State Department and the CDC have both advised people to avoid non-essential travel to the country. And while there aren't any direct flights leaving or entering Wuhan, passengers that have traveled from China are being screened.
What to expect if you are screened
According to several representatives at the airports that are screening passengers, the screening process is handled in a separate room, usually in a customs facility. Additionally, those same representatives reported that there have not been any delays or impact of daily operations due to the screenings.
Still, it is recommended to allow for time to be screened as you deplane.
The CDC is checking temperatures of travelers through a handheld thermometer that requires no contact with skin. Travelers are also asked to fill out a short questionnaire that lists their travel history as well as if they have any symptoms of an illness and their contact information. Along with a fever, screeners will be looking for people who have a cough or are having trouble breathing.
If you are sick, you will be evaluated further. CDC officials will determine if hospitalization is necessary and whether or not you need further care.
If you aren't ill, you will be given a card that has important information about coronavirus and the steps you should take if you begin to feel ill. Contact a medical professional before heading to the doctor or an emergency room, especially if you begin to feel ill within two weeks of being back. Be sure to explain that you have been in China if that's the case.
What to do if you're leaving China
Monitor your health, especially in those initial 14 days after leaving. If you do get ill with a cough, fever, and/or have difficulty breathing, avoid contact with other people. Contact your doctor, explain your symptoms, and alert them about your travel history.
They will then explain what to do next to avoid spreading the virus.
What to do if you've got an upcoming trip to China
If you've got a trip coming up, you may be able to cancel or postpone it without a penalty. Check with your airline and your accommodations. Some airlines have completely suspended routes in and out of China.
If you might have to travel later in the year, buy travel insurance, just in case. Also, always try to book your travel on a credit card with travel insurance to ensure you have some cushion when you travel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the coronavirus is a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Therefore, the State Department has raised the Travel Advisory Level to a Level 4: Do Not Travel.