NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With the coronavirus outbreak affecting at least 40 countries, many travelers are concerned about what’s being done to contain the virus.
At JFK Airport, jetlagged passengers typically in a rush to clear immigration are now appalled by a lack of screening, especially compared to procedures in the countries they just left.
Emily Ferrara and Blair Haworth just returned from Florence, Italy, where their study abroad program was canceled because of the virus. There are more than 300 cases there, one of the largest outbreaks outside China.
Yet, the students told CBS2’s Christina Fan they weren’t asked a single question about potential symptoms once they landed in New York City.
“We didn’t even get checked. Like we’re used to being in Florence where you get your temperature checked. Here they didn’t do anything, which is kind of crazy,” Ferrara said. “Considering, like, how much the cases have spread so fast, like, they should definitely be taking more precautions here.”
Currently, the United States is only conducting health screenings for passengers who are flying in from China.
Some, including Mayor Bill de Blasio this week, called for the screenings to be extended to flights from Italy, South Korea and Japan.
But Dr. Teresa Amato, the chair of emergency medicine at Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, says the idea may not be effective.
“I think it’s becoming increasingly difficult given that people are infected with no symptoms and travel areas are becoming more and more widespread with the virus,” she said.
In addition to airport screenings, some passengers believe there should be more travel restrictions from countries other than China. President Donald Trump weighed in on the idea at a press conference Wednesday.
“At a right time, we might do that. Right now, it’s not the right time,” he said.
Meanwhile, you may want to check the state department’s website before making travel arrangements in the coming weeks and months. Advisories are being added in response to the spread of the virus.
The spread of the coronavirus is impacting travel around the world, well beyond China, as passengers are on alert.
“My company is not letting us to travel to certain places. Obviously right now, we have a ban, so can’t really go there,” Michael Pietrunti, of Long Island City, told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
“We wore masks on both planes and all the planes we took and stuff like that just for extra precautions. Even though they say it might not prevent anything, you may as well do that if you’re in an enclosed space with so many people,” Upper East Side resident Marissa Schickling said.
With spring break and other routine travel on the horizon, AAA says there are now more factors to consider before going abroad.
“We’re telling people that they should make sure their health insurance is in place before they go, that they should see their health provider before they travel and certainly have all their health insurance documents with them when they’re traveling,” said Robert Sinclair, Jr. with AAA Northeast.
Many travel insurance companies are no longer providing coverage for coronavirus-related losses, but if you bought that insurance before Jan. 22 when the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency, you may still be covered.
The state department continues to add to its list of advisories that includes Italy, South Korea and Mongolia.
The warnings range from exercising caution to avoiding travel altogether. Registering your travel plans with the state department will allow you to be contacted if circumstances change while you’re overseas.