nCoV Screening Now Extended For Certain Passengers at JFK

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV diagnostic testing can be conducted at the CDC

New Yorkers returning to JFK airport from China should expect a different experience when passing through the customs area beginning today.

If an arriving passenger is identified by the Customs Department as a ‘Person Under Investigation’, the additional waiting time at JFK airport could be measured in hours.

To help clarify this new procedure, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) issued a Health Advisory alerting healthcare providers to the new arriving passenger Customs and Border Protection (CBP) guidelines, on January 17, 2020.

The enhance CBP screening requirements for JFK, LAX, and SFO airports were issued on January 17th, related to the ongoing outbreak of a 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, that began in December 2019.

In addition, the 2019-nCoV virus has been confirmed in people located in Japan and Thailand during January 2020.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a press release ‘it has deployed about 100 additional staff to these airports to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations. U.S. Quarantine Stations serve to limit the introduction of infectious diseases into the USA.’

To notify international travelers, the CDC has issued various Travel Aerts during January 2020, regarding this expanding, fatal disease outbreak currently under investigation in China, Thailand, and Japan. 

The CDC says ‘there is much more to learn about how the 2019-nCoV virus spreads, the severity of associated illness, and other features of the virus. Based on current information, however, the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is deemed to be low at this time.’

The notice sent by the NYSDOH says ‘In accordance with the current requirements and expectations from the 2014 Commissioner’s Order, healthcare providers and facilities are required to collect a travel history for patients presenting with febrile illness and remain aware of current outbreaks overseas.’

As described in CDC’s Health Update published on January 17, 2020, patients who meet either of the following criteria should be evaluated as a Person Under Investigation (PUI) in association with the 2019-nCoV outbreak:

  • Fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and in the last 14 days before symptom onset had a history of travel from Wuhan City, China, or close contact with a person who is under investigation for 2019-nCOV while that person was ill.
  • Fever OR symptoms of lower respiratory illness (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and in the last 14 days before symptom onset had close contact with an ill laboratory-confirmed 2019-nCoV patient.
  • Providers caring for patients who meet either PUI criteria should follow the CDC’s recommended infection prevention and control guidelines and immediately notify the local health department where the patient resides. Notification is required under the New York State Sanitary Code (10NYCRR 2.10).
  • NYSDOH will assist providers in determining and accessing appropriate laboratory testing for respiratory pathogens and if indicated, 2019-nCoV. Specimen collection and shipping instructions will also be provided.

Furthermore, the NYSDOH’s alert said ‘Healthcare providers should immediately notify both infection control personnel at their healthcare facility and their local or state health department in the event of a PUI for 2019-nCoV.

State health departments that have identified a PUI should immediately contact the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at 770-488-7100 and complete a 2019-nCoV PUI case investigation form. 

The CDC’s EOC will assist local/state health departments to collect, store, and ship specimens appropriately to CDC, including during after-hours or on weekends/holidays.

The collection of 3 specimen types; lower respiratory, upper respiratory and serum specimens; for testing is recommended.

Although the virus transmission dynamics have yet to be determined, the CDC currently recommends a cautious approach to patients under investigation for 2019-nCoV.

Such patients should be asked to wear a surgical mask as soon as they are identified and be evaluated in a private room with the door closed, ideally, an airborne infection isolation room if available.

Healthcare personnel entering the room should use standard precautions, contact precautions, airborne precautions, and use eye protection, such as goggles or a face shield.

Moreover, diagnostic testing for 2019-nCoV can be conducted only at CDC, at this time.

At JFK airport, Customs Wait Times are based on the last 10 minutes of processing primary customs for visitors with non B1/2 Visa and ESTA First Time. Passengers using Mobile Passport Control or Automated Passport Control may experience shorter processing times.

This NYSDOH HEALTH ADVISORY: INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS AND FACILITIES IN NEW YORK STATE ON THE OUTBREAK OF 2019 NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (2019-nCoV) was distributed via secure email.

Coronavirus and 2019-nCoV outbreak news published by Precision Vaccinations.