Online Originals: Coronavirus and travel; what you should know

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The coronavirus is raising more concerns, as five US citizens now are confirmed to have it, according to USA Today.

The Centers for Disease Control reports nearly 2,700 people have been infected so far, with 80 deaths.

Wuhan is the epicenter of the outbreak.

It’s a city in China with over 11 million people living there.

Symptoms of the virus are much like the flu. They include chest pain, diarrhea, vomiting, congestion, coughing, fever, body aches, and more.

While security and precautionary measures have been made in the United States, those traveling internationally need to be cautious.

Keith Ramsey is the Vidant Medical Center’s Director of Infection Control. He says even if you’ve traveled abroad and felt fine, you could still have it.

Keith Ramsey (above) is Vidant Medical Center’s Director for Infection Control.

“Patients can have no symptoms yet be infected with the virus, shedding the virus, and inadvertently spreading it to others,” says Ramsey.

“So, therefore these thermal scans they’ve talked about doing at some of the airports, if you don’t have symptoms and have no fever, then those scanners might not even pick up that the traveler might be a candidate for the virus.”

“The challenge is being enclosed in an airplane. You’re enclosed in a room for…a small room…for quite a number of hours, especially if you’re traveling from over seas.” 

Keith Ramsey, Vidant Medical Director of Infection Control

In North Carolina, Raleigh’s International Airport had a scare where a traveler showed signs of coronavirus.

Thankfully, the person was transferred to Duke’s medical center and tested negative for the virus.

Bill Hopper is Executive Director at Pitt-Greenville Airport. He says because they’re not an international airport, they’re not overly worried just yet.

Bill Hopper (above) is PGV’s Executive Director.

“Really the precautions aren’t necessary at this stage,” says Hopper.

“It’s the airports that have the customs facilities that need to take the precautions. We’re just standing by on alert. We have a great communication network with the industry. So we just pay particular attention to the industry. “

Hopper says while they do have a few international travelers coming in and out of PGV, most of them would’ve been detected with the virus through custom facilities before making their way here.

The front of Pitt-Greenville Airport.

However, should someone locally become infected, Ramsey says they immediately spring into action.

If someone comes to them with symptoms mirroring the coronavirus, they’re asked questions like, “have you or someone you know recently been to China or Wuhan?”.

If they appear to be sick with coronavirus, they’re immediately placed in an isolation room and treated properly.

When it comes to a vaccine, that might not be available for a while.

Ramsey says there are other coronavirus strains out there that are much like the common cold, and they don’t kill people. He said it could be a year before a vaccine for this strain becomes available.

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