Breaking News
More () »

Why passengers won’t be screened for coronavirus at Sea-Tac Airport

The first confirmed case of the coronavirus in the U.S. is a Snohomish County man who passed through Sea-Tac airport from Wuhan, China.

SEATAC, Wash. — The first U.S. case of coronavirus originating from China has been reported in a man in Washington state who came through the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set up checkpoints at five major airports in the United States to screen people returning from Wuhan, China for coronavirus. 

Sea-Tac is not one of those airports. That's because Sea-Tac does not have direct or connecting flights to Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak

The man in his 30s who was diagnosed with coronavirus did not fly directly into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but authorities are still working to determine which airports he stopped in first before leaving Wuhan. 

RELATED: Snohomish County man has first US case of Wuhan coronavirus from China

Passengers who are from areas at-risk, will be re-ticketed and rerouted through one of five screening airports.

The CDC set up checkpoints at San Francisco International Airport, New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports and has screened more than 1,200 passengers traveling through San Francisco International Airport. Additional checkpoints will be added at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta and O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

"The Washington Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed a coronavirus case in Snohomish County. According to DOH the risk for the public is low and there is no additional guidance for Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) travelers at this time.  We continue to stay in close contact with our partners at the Centers for Disease Control, the Washington Department of Health, and King County Public Health," Sea-Tac Airport officials said in a statement.

As of Wednesday morning, at least 17 people have died and over 540 have been infected in China by the mysterious respiratory infection. Chinese officials recently confirmed that the virus can be spread from person to person, although it is unclear how easily it spreads. 

Coronavirus is a potentially deadly respiratory illness that's been compared to SARS.

RELATED: What to know about the Wuhan coronavirus

Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said the travel-related spread of the illness has been confirmed in Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

The outbreak initially was connected to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan, but human-to-human transmission could make the virus spread more quickly and widely. News of the illness spreading among people came as China reported a sharp uptick in cases.

The World Health Organization is expected to meet Wednesday to decide whether to declare it an international public health emergency, the New York Times reported.

In Washington, the risk for coronavirus for the general public is low.

Before You Leave, Check This Out