The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Tuesday, January 21, that it would begin screening passengers arriving from Wuhan (China) at Atlanta's Hartfield-Jackson International (ATL) and Chicago's O'Hare International (ORD) airports for the unidentified Wuhan coronavirus that has left 17 dead as of Wednesday, January 22. Fever screenings have already been implemented at San Francisco International airport (SFO), Los Angeles International airport (LAX), and New York's John F. Kennedy airport (JFK). All future flights arriving in the US from Wuhan will be routed through the five abovementioned airports.
The CDC raised its travel advisory for the Wuhan area to a Level 2 alert, urging travelers to "practice enhanced precautions." In particular, CDC officials warned that the virus poses an increased threat to older adults with underlying health conditions.
Further spread of the illness is possible over the near term, particularly during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday.
On Tuesday, January 21, officials confirmed that a man in Washington state was infected with the Wuhan coronavirus. This is the first confirmed case of the unidentified respiratory infection in the United States. The man was reportedly hospitalized with pneumonia a week earlier after returning from near Wuhan (Hubei province) in China, where the outbreak originated.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Individuals who plan to travel to or have recently returned from China, particularly Hubei province, are advised to monitor the situation and anticipate additional security checks at the airport. Individuals are advised to take precautionary measures to reduce their risk of contracting the virus:
• Avoid all contact with animals (dead or alive); avoid eating animal products that are undercooked; avoid all markets where animals are sold
• Avoid all close contact with people displaying symptoms of the disease (e.g. difficulties breathing)
• Frequently wash hands, wear a face mask
• Individuals within China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to seek medical attention, avoid contact with other people, and wash hands regularly
• Adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments
• Travelers returning from China developing symptoms of pneumonia are advised to call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to avoid spread of the disease