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Washington State Stands Ready to Isolate and Quarantine Travelers from China

For immediate release: February 4, 2020  (pub 20-015)Español

Contact: Joint Information Center, 253-512-7100

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with partners, including federal and state agencies and local health departments, to implement new federal measures announced on January 31, 2020 to control the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

Currently, the Department of Homeland Security is working in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to screen all passengers coming from China for fever and respiratory symptoms upon arrival at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Passengers who are ill will be immediately isolated from others, evaluated by a CDC medical professional at the airport and, if needed, safely taken to a hospital for further medical evaluation.

Travelers without symptoms of novel coronavirus infection who have been in Hubei Province in the past 14 days will be placed under quarantine with daily active monitoring by public health officials until their 15th day of having left Hubei Province. For most travelers, we expect this quarantine will last just a few days as transportation services out of Hubei were discontinued about 10 days ago. They will then be monitored like other travelers from the rest of China, as described below. Home quarantine is the first choice for those traveling from Hubei. If a traveler requires quarantine and can’t do it at home, the Department of Health has a safe facility ready to use that is away from other members of the public. This publicly-owned facility in King County has individual bedrooms with private bathrooms. We do not plan to disclose the location of the facility to protect people’s privacy. The volume of travelers from Hubei into the United States is very low at this time so we may not need to use the facility at all. We are evaluating additional housing options should the needs change.

At Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, our federal partners are giving asymptomatic travelers returning from China, who have not traveled to the Hubei Province in the last 14 days, a Travel Health Alert Notice. These travelers are being allowed to continue their travel to their home destination, if they don’t have any symptoms. This notice asks them to stay at home and monitor their health for the next 14 days with the help of public health officials. When public health receives the names of travelers who live or are staying in Washington, public health officials will contact them.

The current risk of 2019 novel coronavirus to the general public remains low at this time in the United States and Washington State.

DOH has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, please call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

The DOH website is your source for a healthy dose of information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Sign up for the DOH blog, Public Health Connection

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