Tourists, residents take precautions amid D.C. deadly virus case

Written by By Laura Gadd


(CNN) – Foreign visitors in Washington, the first destination affected by the spread of the deadly new coronavirus, are taking precautions while here.

Dieticians and GPs at D.C.’s airport are advising travelers to get tested for the deadly virus, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which has issued a list of “the dos and don’ts” on handling the disease.

Several dozen foreign travelers with suspected cases were met at the airport on Tuesday by health authorities to have nasal swabs and blood specimens taken, said a spokesman for the Washington Metro Airports Authority.

“Health officials at the airports were informing travelers and family members of the cases,” said spokesman Peter Van Loan.

About 20 people at the airports were held in the terminals at Tuesday’s D.C. airport open, and other travelers who are non-compliant to the disease outbreak are being screened, according to the authority spokesman.

The cases at the airport are expected to turn out to be just that, said a spokesman for the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The World Health Organization estimates at least 150 people have contracted the virus worldwide, resulting in at least 14 deaths.

In response to the virus, a Maryland family whose 2-year-old son died last week after arriving in Washington from Saudi Arabia has returned to their home country. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the boy’s case.

In the days before his death, the boy’s father said he was puzzled by the boy’s fever and rash and worried that he may have the virus.

The strain of the coronavirus is different from the common cold. It is an animal virus and not easily transmitted person-to-person, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner. That means that the disease is likely to be contained to people who come into contact with infected animals, such as camels, said John Brown, who directs the University of Maryland’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy.

A British man will reportedly be released from the hospital Friday, after he was diagnosed with the respiratory illness, according to Britain’s Daily Mail. He began experiencing flu-like symptoms in December, and later collapsed and was hospitalized in St. Albans, England.

Only confirmed cases of the illness could become part of a plan to combat the outbreak and give a more accurate count of the virus’s spread, according to Brown.

“(No one) really knows what the real scale of the outbreak is,” he said.

Biden’s handling of the pandemic is being given mixed reviews by some residents and tourists in D.C. Others said that the spread of the virus is inevitable.

Ashley Senecal, 23, of New York, says she is “just going on vacation,” but plans to stay away from the airport, where she was supposed to fly to Europe for four days. “They do need to figure out a way to prevent this,” she said.

Claudia Blasick, 70, of Maryland said the virus is being spread here because the world has become “too crowded.”

“I used to travel overseas and at the end of the day, the family wouldn’t want you touching your body,” she said. “I suppose it’s inevitable we’re going to come into contact with something.”

Christopher and Caroline Kobaris, 20 and 26, who were visiting from Virginia, also said “something is going to happen.”

CNN’s Pamela Brown contributed to this report.


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