Sick passenger at BWI didn’t meet coronavirus testing criteria

A passenger on a Southwest flight who recently traveled to China and had flu-like symptoms was taken off the flight at BWI Marshall Airport on Saturday. They were evaluated by state medical officials but did not meet federal criteria for coronavirus testing.

The crew contacted the airport about the passenger ahead of its arrival, according to Fran Phillips, deputy secretary for public health for Maryland’s Department of Health.

“The airport out of abundance of caution notified state authorities and wanted to make certain that this individual was handled properly,” said Phillips.

Phillips said a medical team met the plane and transported the man to a medical facility, where he was examined.

The new viral illness exhibits symptoms similar to the common flu. Because of that, Phillips said a medical exam cannot be the only thing authorities rely on to determine whether an individual needs to be tested for the “pneumonia like” illness that’s killed at least 56 people.

A very close look at the person’s travel history and close personal contacts over the past 14 days must also be done.

The man in this case had traveled to Bejing which is outside of the country’s quarantine zone.

Phillips said health officials determined the man didn’t meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s criteria to get coronavirus testing, which can only be done at the CDC.

“He did have flu-like symptoms but you know what that’s not particular unusual this time of year with so many other viruses circulating,” Phillips said.

Phillips said the man was in good condition and was released.

Southwest Airlines in statement said flight 2889’s crew responded “out of an abundance of caution”and “in light of the recent concerns of the coronavirus.”

“Our crew followed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control for responding to concerns to ensure the Customer, and those traveling with them, receive the assistance or support they may need,” the statement read.

Three U.S. states have reported cases of the deadly coronavirus.

In addition to the dozens who have died from the virus, at least 2,000 others have been diagnosed. Cases outside of China have been reported in France, Australia, Singapore, Nepal and Japan.

No deaths due to the virus have occurred outside of China.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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