Airports around the world are stepping up procedures to protect from the coronavirus outbreak, and although Boston Logan International Airport isn’t quite at that stage, Bay State hospitals are preparing just in case.
“We and other hospitals are setting up screening protocols so that if we do get a person who might have this disease that we identify them early based on travel history,” said Dr. David Hooper, chief of infection control at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Already, the viral pneumonia has caused 17 deaths, affecting people in China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. U.S. health officials confirmed Tuesday that a Seattle, Washington, resident had contracted the virus.
To prepare and prevent the illness from spreading locally, Massachusetts hospitals are setting up screening protocols as a precaution.
Symptoms of the newly discovered virus include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat and fever. Health officials said the illness was probably spread from animals to people, and Chinese authorities say it can spread from person to person.
Although U.S. health officials say the overall risk to the American public is low, the Center for Disease Control said more cases in the U.S. are expected to arise.
Anyone who experiences similar symptoms and has visited any of the affected areas is encouraged to see a doctor.
Massachusetts' Department of Public Health says it's monitoring the outbreak as well, in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The risk to Massachusetts residents from this novel coronavirus is currently low, however, this is the season for respiratory viruses including the flu and many of the same recommended precautions apply to coronaviruses," the DPH said in a statement.
"People should continue taking precautions to avoid illness, including urging people with flu-like illnesses to stay home, washing hands, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, and covering coughs," it continued.