January 29, 2020
Philadelphia International Airport is now screening some travelers for the novel coronavirus, an effort aimed at preventing the deadly illness from gaining a stronger foothold in the United States.
All passengers arriving from China will be screened by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers before exiting the international terminal.
It's a process that's playing out at 20 American airports, which handle about 90% of the passengers from China, according to Vice President Mike Pence. The Philly airport does not have any direct flights from China, but passengers from China arrive there via connecting flights.
As of Wednesday, there were more than 6,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in China – a figure that has surpassed the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak. At least 132 people have died since the coronavirus appeared in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
The risk of coronavirus infection for Americans remains low, U.S. health officials stress. So far, only five U.S. residents have tested positive for the virus and they all traveled from Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. But the CDC is investigating dozens of additional cases, including one from Philadelphia.
By bolstering airport screenings, U.S. health officials hope to contain the virus. Here's what people traveling from China can expect to undergo as part of the screening process.
Travelers from China will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire regarding their travel, possible symptoms and contact information upon landing.
CDC staffers then will take the passengers' temperatures using a handheld, non-contact thermometer. They also will observe passengers for coughing and breathing difficulties.
Any passengers deemed to be sick will undergo further evaluation to determine whether they should be taken to a hospital for additional testing and treatment.
Travelers who do not have symptoms will receive a health information card listing coronavirus symptoms and providing instructions on what to do should they develop symptoms.
More information from the CDC can be found here.
All travelers from China should monitor their health for any potential changes for 14 days. Anyone who develops fever, cough or experience difficulty breathing should seek medical care immediately. They also should avoid contact with other people.
The CDC urges them to call the doctor's office or emergency department before arriving so that precautions can be taken to prevent others from falling ill. Travelers should inform medical personnel that they had been in China.
Medical personnel are being instructed to immediately notify both infection control, the Pennsylvania Department of Health and the Philadelphia Health Department.
In addition to Philadelphia International Airport, there are 19 other airports screening passengers.
• Boston Logan International Airport
• Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
• Detroit Metropolitan Airport
• Dulles International Airport in Washington
• El Paso International Airport
• George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston
• Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta
• Honolulu International Airport
• John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York
• Los Angeles International Airport
• Miami International Airport
• Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
• Newark Liberty International Airport
• O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
• San Diego International Airport
• San Francisco International Airport
• San Juan Airport in Puerto Rico
• Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
• Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport