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LAX passenger quarantined over deadly Chinese coronavirus symptoms; described as ‘disturbing’

Los Angeles International Airport, California (Prayitno, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
January 23, 2020

A passenger aboard a plane arriving to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) aboard a flight from Mexico City has been quarantined after showing symptoms matching those of the recent Wuhan coronavirus outbreak in China.

The passenger in question was aboard American Airlines flight 2546 when it arrived around 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, according to KTVU news. The plane was reportedly met by Los Angeles firefighters and police and the passenger was hospitalized and quarantined after the plane landed.

The passenger reportedly exhibited “disturbing symptoms.”

The news from LAX comes as China has rapidly restricted travel around several major cities, affecting tens of millions of people ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday. Thus far at least 17 people have been reported killed by the virus and more than 570 cases have been reported, mostly in China.

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The U.S. Center For Disease Control (CDC) confirmed the first U.S. case of coronavirus on Tuesday.

The recent coronavirus outbreak first began with cases in the Chinese city of Wuhan, but health officials have been anticipating the likelihood of a case appearing at LAX, given the large number of people that travel to and from LAX and destinations in China. Health officials reportedly began carrying out screening efforts on Sunday.

It is not immediately clear if the latest incident at LAX constitutes another case of coronavirus in the U.S., though health officials appear cautious.

Firefighters reportedly carried out deep contamination procedures after the LAX passenger was hospitalized.

Barbara Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health, told KTVU that the airport has seen between 40 and 60 passengers arriving from Wuhan, China and none so far have been identified for additional screenings.

Several other major U.S. airports have also begun screening efforts to identify possible carriers of the coronavirus.

It is not yet clear if screening efforts are focused on travelers from other countries, such as Mexico, where passenger in this latest incident travelled.

The coronavirus has already spread and cases have been identified in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The CDC has identified the coronavirus as having many symptoms similar to the common cold, such as runny nose, headaches, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell. In its list of symptoms, the CDC said most people contract forms of the coronavirus throughout their lives and the illness passes. More serious cases can, however, lead to lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.