Screenings for mystery virus at O'Hare: What you need to know

  • An airport staff member uses a temperature gun to check people leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China, Tuesday.

    An airport staff member uses a temperature gun to check people leaving Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, China, Tuesday. Associated Press

  • Travelers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station on Monday in the wake of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, including the first cases in the capital. The outbreak coincides with the country's busiest travel period, as millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays.

    Travelers wear face masks as they walk outside of the Beijing Railway Station on Monday in the wake of an outbreak of a new coronavirus, including the first cases in the capital. The outbreak coincides with the country's busiest travel period, as millions board trains and planes for the Lunar New Year holidays. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/22/2020 8:39 AM

Passengers arriving at O'Hare International Airport from a region in eastern China will start being screened this week for a new virus that causes pneumonia and has sickened hundreds in Asia.

Information is still emerging about the 2019 novel coronavirus, but authorities confirmed Tuesday that a Washington state resident who returned Jan. 15 from Wuhan, China, is the first American known to have contracted the respiratory illness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Screening at O'Hare by federal health workers "will impact a very limited group of travelers, and the broader traveling public and airport employees are not at risk," Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie Rhee said.

"We're taking these proactive measures based on recommendations from the CDC to ensure we are monitoring traveler health appropriately," Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said.

Travelers at O'Hare do not need to take special precautions and will not be affected unless their flights are departing to or arriving from the Wuhan region of China, officials said. Screening typically involves passengers filling out questionnaires and having their temperatures checked. Travelers with fever, cough or trouble breathing might undergo additional assessments.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began screening passengers from Wuhan Friday at San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York's John F. Kennedy international airports. O'Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport are being added to the list.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Coronaviruses are described as a "family" of viruses causing respiratory problems that include the common cold.

One coronavirus, however, was severe acute respiratory syndrome or SARS, a respiratory infection that resulted in a global outbreak in 2003, killing 774 people, according to the World Health Organization.

There's a lot scientists don't know about the new coronavirus yet.

"While originally thought to be spreading from animal to person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It's unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people," CDC officials said.

Chinese authorities estimate the virus, first detected in December, has infected about 440 people in China and caused nine deaths. Other cases have been reported in Thailand, Japan and South Korea.

Those most susceptible are the elderly or people with health problems and compromised immune systems, preliminary information indicates.

Authorities noted that despite the fatalities, other patients have been treated and released.

It's not the first time O'Hare has hosted CDC screenings for viruses; this also occurred in 2014 during the Ebola epidemic in Africa.

"Over the years, we've developed deep relationships and gained useful experiences when it comes to addressing situations like the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, and airport contingency preparations began a week ago -- before the CDC initiated this step," Rhee stated.

0 Comments
 
Article Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.