Los Angeles Int’l Airport — More people wearing masks could be seen coming out of the gates of the Los Angeles International Airport.
A new strain of the deadly coronavirus originating from Wuhan, China has prompted fears and concerns worldwide, and county health officials are closely monitoring the outbreak.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has deployed about a hundred additional staff to 5 major US airports including LAX, where they are expected to screen an additional 5,000 incoming passengers.
Officials said travelers from Wuhan will be escorted to a designated screening area of the airport to complete a Traveler Health Declaration and will be observed for signs of illness.
“There’s going to be funneling of individuals that are traveling from Wuhan or originated their trip from Wuhan to five U.S. airports — LAX, LA, JFK, Chicago, Atlanta and San Francisco. And that is, again, an additional step to help identify individuals that are coming from the area of current concern and perform additional screening as they come into that funneled five sets of airports.”
Several Chinese airlines do link the Philippines to the US, but passengers say they haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary yet.
Dea Sankui from Olangapo took China Eastern Airlines from the Philippines to Los Angeles. She said she’s not too worried about the virus.
“It’s okay. There wasn’t any hassle.”
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been assisting the CDC in the airport screenings. One traveler with disturbing flu-like symptoms arriving from Mexico City has been quarantined and will be tested to see if they are infected with the novel coronavirus.
While health officials say it’s possible to see at least one China-linked case, the risk of the virus spreading in the county is very low. To prevent the virus from spreading, they’re encouraging people to treat this concern like any other illness with hand washing, rest, and by staying away.
“The things we’re saying are all sensible things that people should be doing, just as if they have influenza if they have a fever, we’re urging everybody to stay home until 24 hours after your fever evades,” said Dr. Sharon Balter, Director of Acute Communicable Disease Control LAC Dept of Public Health.
Even with the Lunar New Year expected to bring in more travelers and public gatherings, officials said there’s no need to worry about the coronavirus.
“We want people to enjoy themselves over the holidays, and we want people to feel welcomed in LA,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director LAC Dept of Public Health.
And if cases do emerge, health officials said they will be ready to find care for the patient and look into other people they may have come in contact with.