Local News

Major US airports screening travelers for deadly coronavirus

Posted January 22, 2020 5:15 a.m. EST

— The first case of the deadly coronavirus was reported in the U.S. on Tuesday, and local travelers are on high alert.

The first case in the U.S. was in Washington state, where a man in his 30s developed symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around Wuhan, China, where the outbreak began. Of the over 400 cases reported worldwide, nine people have died.

Officials at Raleigh-Durham International said the airport will not screen travelers for the virus since there there are no direct flights from Asia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, screening will be enforced for travelers leaving parts of Asia at five other major airports, including John F. Kennedy International, San Francisco International, Los Angeles International, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International and Chicago O'Hare.

CDC leaders say one concern has been millions of people preparing to travel domestically and abroad for China's Lunar New Year celebrations, which start this week.

The outbreak is believed to have started late last month among people connected to a seafood market in Wuhan.

The coronavirus is a pneumonia like illness, and signs and symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. The CDC is monitoring the spread, but health officials say people should be more alert of the flu than the coronavirus, which mainly affects people with weakened immune systems.

U.S. officials stressed Tuesday that they believe the virus' overall risk to the American public remained low.

"If you don't have a history of having been in Wuhan, China, in the past two weeks, then flu is what you should be concerned about, not this new coronavirus that's out there," said Dr. Zack Moore, North Carolina's state epidemiologist. "It is still flu season, and we are seeing high levels of influenza going around."

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