The Department of Public Health (DPH) last week informed hospitals and other providers that they should be on the lookout for patients who have recently traveled to Wuhan and who present with fever, respiratory problems, or interactions with a known coronavirus patient.
Airports in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and JFK in New York, which receive the majority of travelers from Wuhan, are screening passengers, as is Chicago-O’Hare and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson. Boston’s Logan International is not formally screening passengers but some travelers on one flight from Hong Kong were screened by EMS personnel last week, according to the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Last Thursday, Chinese authorities closed Wuhan’s train station and airport and halted ferry, subway, and bus service. Wuhan has a population of 11 million people. Other large cities in China were also subject to the travel lockdown, affecting more than 35 million people. Chinese hospitals in the affected Hubei province were being overrun and were turning away patients, according to international media outlets.
In Massachusetts, where the risk factor was considered low, DPH says if a facility has a patient that meets the warning criteria, the patient should wear a surgical mask and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed, ideally in an airborne infection isolation room, if available. Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and use eye protection. And the provider should contact DPH.