All flights to the United States carrying people who have recently been in China are being directed to land at one of seven U.S. airports with public health resources capable of implementing enhanced coronavirus screening procedures.
The action by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took effect Sunday; the department published details of the decision in today’s issue of the Federal Register.
The action follows an outbreak of respiratory illness that began in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The outbreak was caused by a coronavirus. The Federal Register announcement noted that coronaviruses are common in some species of animals, including bats, cats and cattle, but rarely infect people.
“The potential for widespread transmission of this virus by infected individuals seeking to enter the United States threatens the security of our transportation system and infrastructure, and the national security,” DHS said. “In an abundance of caution and to assist in preventing the introduction and spread of this communicable disease in the United States, DHS, in coordination with [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and other federal, state and local agencies … , is implementing enhanced arrival protocols to ensure that all travelers with recent travel from the People’s Republic of China are provided public health services.”
Recent travel is defined by the announcement to mean within the 14 days preceding the person’s entry or attempted entry into the United States.
The seven airports that are prepared to screen passengers arriving from China are John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, San Francisco International Airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.