Concern Over Coronavirus Grows, Travel Restrictions in Place

Flights from China limited to 11 U.S. airports

By Matt Neistei

Published February 3, 2020

Read Time: 2 mins


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday upped the number of airports to 11 that can accept flights from China, where more than 360 people have died from a coronavirus outbreak in the last several weeks.

The move was the latest from the federal government, which continues to put travel restrictions in place in response to the illness.

In the U.S., officials have confirmed fewer than a dozen cases of the illness, which originated in Wuhan, China, in December. Chinese officials say they have confirmed more than 17,000 cases, mostly centered around the Hubei Province.

The U.S. is one of several countries that has restricted travel to and from China since the outbreak began, diverting flights originating there or containing passengers who have recently been to China to one of 11 domestic airports.

Three airports were added to that list Monday, including Newark, Dallas-Fort Worth and Detroit. They join JFK-New York, Chicago O’Hare, San Francisco, Seattle-Tacoma, Daniel K. Inouye-Honolulu, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington Dulles airports.

Additionally, the U.S. imposed a 14-day travel ban on all visitors from China. U.S. citizens arriving from Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, will have to undergo 14 days of mandatory quarantine upon arrival while those traveling from other parts of China will face screening.

The U.S. State Department has warned American citizens not to travel to China. Despite the precautionary measures, the CDC has said the immediate health risk is low inside the U.S. and has not recommended extraordinary procedures for airports not receiving flights from China.

Still, airport officials across the country have said they are ready with action plans as circumstances change or a potentially infected passenger arrives. That’s also true at Pittsburgh International Airport, which has no nonstop flights from China. Officials remain in contact with Customs and Border Protection, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Allegheny County Health Department, and are monitoring updates and guidelines from those agencies in addition to its own action plan, said April Gasparri, Senior Vice President of Public Safety, Operations and Maintenance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Federal Aviation Administration are advising U.S. flight and cabin crews to travel in groups by private transport while in China, and to minimize time in public areas while there, among other actions they can take to reduce their risk of contracting the illness.

When they arrive back in the U.S., they are asked to self-monitor their health and immediately report fever, coughing or difficulty breathing to their employers.

The general public is being asked to wash their hands thoroughly and stay home if sick, the CDC said. However, the agency is not currently recommending the use of facemasks.

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