Coronavirus Spreads to US

CDC and DHS increasing airport screenings

January 23, 2020

The first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCOV) has been confirmed in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The patient, a man in his 30s who lives in the Seattle area, is currently in isolation. He returned home to Washington state on January 15 from Wuhan, China, where 2019-nCOV originated in December.

The Wuhan coronavirus is in the same family as severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, which killed more than 700 people in 2002 and 2003, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS. So far, the Wuhan coronavirus has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, and now the United States.

Symptoms of 2019-nCOV include fever, cough, and impaired breathing. The disease is thought to have originally spread from animals to people, but there is growing evidence it is now spreading from person to person. The CDC and Washington state health officials are currently tracing the people the U.S. patient was in contact with to make sure he has not spread the disease to anyone else. However, health officials stress that the chances of catching the coronavirus in the United States are low and that other illnesses, such as measles and the flu, are a much bigger risk to the American public, CNN reports.

In the meantime, the CDC and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are screening airline passengers from Wuhan at two additional airports: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Last weekend they began screening passengers at San Francisco International Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, and Los Angeles International Airport. Government officials will soon require passengers from Wuhan to the United States to only land at one of these five airports.

Experts at the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, advise that biorisk management professionals follow GBAC protocol for a known infectious agent if they find themselves disinfecting surfaces against this new coronavirus. To learn GBAC protocol, register for GBAC’s next forensic restoration operation training course in February.


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