Newark Liberty International Airport has joined other U.S. ports of entry in stepping up screening for the deadly novel coronavirus virus, officials said.
The virus, which emerged in China and has spread to more than a dozen countries, has killed at least 132 people and sickened more than 6,000 around the world, officials said Wednesday. Two people in New Jersey suspected of having the virus have tested negative.
“As more cases of coronavirus spike across the globe, we must do everything we can to protect Americans here at home," U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, both D-N.J., said in a joint statement issued Tuesday. "That starts by ensuring all passengers traveling from the affected regions are properly and thoroughly screened upon arrival in the U.S. It is only prudent that any robust and comprehensive public health response include stepped-up efforts at each of our country’s major ports of entry—including Newark Liberty International Airport.”
Booker and Menendez called on the federal government to include Newark airport in the screenings last week as the virus continued to spread.
Newark Liberty is the nation’s fifth-busiest airport in the U.S. and among 20 which now have enhanced screening for the coronavirus. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and Philadelphia International Airport are also on the list. The 20 airports handle about 90 percent of passengers coming from China.
There have been five confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday - a man in Washington State; a woman in Chicago; a patient in Los Angeles County, California; a man in Orange County, California; and a patient in Arizona. The results of tests on 73 more people suspected of having the virus are pending. The CDC is expected to release another update later Wednesday.
While there is no vaccine for the virus, health officials advise people to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds and to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.