How Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport is responding to travelers’ coronavirus concerns

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With the first U.S. case of coronavirus confirmed this week in a man who lives in Washington state, public health officials are working to make sure the virus that has killed 17 people and sickened hundreds in China doesn’t spread in the United States.

All flights to the U.S. from the Wuhan region of central China where the virus recently flared up are now required to land at one of five airports where passengers will undergo additional screening before being allowed to continue on. Flights that originally were not scheduled to arrive at those airports are being rerouted there, according to the CDC.

Those airports include:

  • Atlanta-Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. 
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
  • Los Angeles International Airport.
  • New York John F. Kennedy International Airport.
  • San Francisco International Airport.

What is the Phoenix airport doing?

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has few international nonstop flights and none to China. Between that and the rerouting of arriving passengers through the above five airports, Sky Harbor has not implemented any additional screening measures.

“Public health officials have not requested any specific changes to Phoenix Sky Harbor’s standard health and safety protocols related to coronavirus,” airport spokesman Greg Roybal said in an email. 

Roybal said if a patient did arrive in Phoenix with symptoms of coronavirus, that would trigger Sky Harbor’s health and safety protocols. The Phoenix Fire Department would be called and public health officials would be notified. 

“Additionally, we have 24-hour cleaning and sanitation airport-wide, and provide hand sanitizer throughout the terminals. We are in close contact with county, state and federal health officials and will follow their direction should further action be needed,” Roybal said. 

More: Phoenix mom says daughter is sick with coronavirus; AZ health officials haven’t confirmed

What is coronavirus?

Hundreds of people in China have been diagnosed with coronavirus, most of whom have a connection to Wuhan.

Initial symptoms include fever, dry cough, mild breathing difficulties, gastrointestinal issues, diarrhea and general body aches.

The CDC says the risk to the general public is low, although it is still investigating how easily this virus spreads. Generally, coronaviruses can be spread by coughs, sneezes, handshakes and other touches, and touching a surface that contains the virus.  

Want to know more? The CDC has an information page for travelers: wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices/alert/novel-coronavirus-china.

You can connect with Arizona Republic Consumer Travel Reporter Melissa Yeager at melissa.yeager@azcentral.com. You can also follow her on Twitter and Instagram

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