77ºF

Central Florida airports, universities monitoring coronavirus outbreak

At least 2 confirmed cases in the United States, none in Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida airports and universities are on notice and closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Florida Department of Health, no cases of the coronavirus have been reported in the state.

Still, local airports and colleges are staying in contact with health officials and monitoring the situation.

The CDC is requiring screenings of passengers from China at five airports. Currently, the Orlando International Airport is not one of the airports conducting the required screenings.

OIA said in a statement on Friday, "At this time, the CDC reports that it may expand screenings at additional airports in the future. However, Orlando International Airport has not been included in that grouping and will continue to monitor the situation. In matters pertaining to public health, Orlando International Airport takes direction from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. At this time, since we do not have direct service to or from China, no additional measures are currently prescribed for our location. However, we will continue to collaborate with health officials, monitor the situation for changes and will act accordingly.”

The Orlando Sanford International Airport said it is not doing anything for the coronavirus at this time.

The Daytona Beach International Airport said it is not taking any additional measures due to the coronavirus, but it does fly to and from Hartsfiled-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which is doing advanced screenings. Officials said the airport does have a communicable disease plan, which was recently practiced during a tabletop exercise.

The University of Central Florida is also monitoring the coronavirus. The university said it’s working to identify any students or researchers who are going to or recently traveled to China.

UCF said in a statement, "At this point communication and coordination among UCF Emergency Management, Health Services and UCF Global is underway per our usual protocols for these situations. We’re working to identify any students or researchers who have traveled to or are planning on traveling to China. We are early into these efforts and don’t have any more to share at this time. UCF is also in regular communication with the Orange County Health Department."

Valencia College said 53 students are from China.

“Valencia College officials are sending an email today to all students from China who are currently taking classes, giving them information on the situation in China – and any travel advisories issued by the U.S. State Department or the Centers for Disease Control. College officials are reminding students that if they have concerns about the situation, they should reach out to their international advisors," college officials wrote in a statement.

Rollins College said in a statement, "We are continuing to monitor the coronavirus cases in the United States and will continue to follow standard precautions as recommended by the CDC center for disease control at this time."

Florida Institute of Technology said the university is continuing to monitor the situation.

The school sent an email to students that read in part, “If you have recently traveled to the following countries – China, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan or South Korea – and feel ill, please visit Florida Tech’s Holzer Health Center or your medical provider for a health screening, being sure to mention your recent travel from these countries immediately to the provider.”

Dr. Stephen Viel, the medical director for emergency services at Halifax Health, said health professionals are on high alert and monitoring the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the symptoms can look like a cold or the flu. Doctors are asking patients about their travel history to determine if they recently visited Wuhan, China, which is ground zero for the outbreak.

"That's one of the first things we'll use to identify people who may be at risk," Viel said.

Despite two confirmed cases in the United States, Viel said the public doesn't need to panic.

“At this point the World Health Organization has not issued a state of emergency. The case mortality rate is believed to be less than some of the current infections that they’re monitoring, like MERS. I don’t think there’s any reason to be alarmed at this point,” he said.


About the Author: