Las Vegas region tourists and casino managers are following closely whether a patient now “under investigation” for the novel coronavirus has contracted the possibly fatal respiratory illness. Within 48 hours, Clark County health officials will know the results of a medical test. But as of Wednesday, there were no confirmed cases in Clark County.
Southern Nevada Health District officials revealed the patient spent time recently in Wuhan, China, where there is an outbreak of the illness. To return home, the Clark County resident flew into a Las Vegas airport. The person did not have symptoms during the flight.
As of now, Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport is not screening for the coronavirus. Last week, five airports in the US were screening, and this week it is up to 20, officials said.
“The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the agency that determines where and when passenger screening is needed,” Joe Rajchel, public information administrator at McCarran, told Casino.org.
“The CDC is currently conducting screening activities at US airports designated as quarantine stations. McCarran International Airport (LAS) is not a quarantine station, and the CDC has not deemed screening activities to be necessary at LAS,” Rajchel added in the statement.
He says that “if and when the CDC decides action is needed at LAS, we will readily accommodate and partner with them to allow the CDC’s public health experts to conduct the activity they believe necessary.”
There are no direct flights to Las Vegas from China, so the Clark County patient must have stopped at another location to board a flight to Las Vegas, officials said.
It was unknown if the patient visited any casinos in the Las Vegas region upon returning from China.
Casinos have not been identified as being at higher risk for disease transmission,” Jennifer L. Sizemore, spokeswoman for the Southern Nevada Health District, told Casino.org.
Chinese health officials believe that one can be asymptomatic and still pass on the illness. Some US doctors are skeptical of that claim.
The Clark County patient developed mild respiratory symptoms after the flight home. These include a runny nose, coughing, and shortness of breath.
As of Tuesday night, the patient was in stable condition at a local hospital and was kept in isolation. The patient’s name and hospital’s identity were not released by the health district.
In a Wednesday morning press conference, health district medical investigator Dr. Vit Kraushaar urged Clark County residents, if they are feeling “sick,” to “please stay home” from work.
Health professionals have already talked to the patient about where he/she traveled and any people with whom the person came into contact. If the CDC lab test is positive, the health district will conduct more detailed interviews.
“While the CDC considers this outbreak to be a serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate risk from the coronavirus to the public in the United States is believed to be low at this time,” Jennifer Sizemore stated. “People who have not traveled to an area where the virus is circulating or have [not] had close contact with a patient who has tested positive for the virus are at low risk for infection.”
Wynn Resorts management is also following the health situation in Nevada. “Safeguarding the health of our guests and employees is of the highest importance at all of our resorts,” a Wynn Resorts spokesman told Casino.org on Wednesday.
As of this date, there are no reported cases of the coronavirus in Las Vegas that we are aware of, however we are in close contact with the Southern Nevada Health District who is monitoring the situation along with the CDC,” the Wynn statement adds. “We will implement any health directive they issue.”
Also, the company statement points out that in Macau, China, Wynn “implemented the directives outlined by the Macau government, which include scaling back our Chinese New Year events, temperature screening all guests entering the casino, and mandating wearing of facemasks by casino employees. We will implement any additional measures as directed from the government.”
China and Hong Kong recently announced a series of restrictions to limit travel to Macau. Chinese authorities also are putting a temporary freeze on issuing individual visas for mainland tourists looking to visit Macau as the coronavirus spreads.
Visits to the Macau region dropped nearly 50 percent during the first two days of the Chinese New Year compared with the year before. The illness is having an economic impact on gaming equities, too.
Airline Passenger Forced off Flight from Las Vegas
Recently, a passenger who had traveled to China and had flu-like symptoms on his return was escorted off a flight at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport Saturday “out of an abundance of caution,” airline and health officials claimed and NBC News reported. The Southwest flight originated in Las Vegas.
The Maryland Department of Health said the passenger did not meet the CDC’s criteria for coronavirus testing, but “was referred to a medical facility for evaluation to determine whether additional follow-up is necessary.” The person was later released after getting checked out.
KVVU TV in Las Vegas reported that airline staff required the passenger to take a “handful of pills,” or the jet was going to land immediately, another passenger on the flight claimed.
The sick passenger took the pills and the jet landed in Baltimore. Before getting to the terminal, police, ambulance crew, and someone in a Hazmat suit were at the plane waiting for the sick passenger and his wife, the third passenger said. The duo was apparently transported to a local hospital by ambulance.
Global Impact from Coronavirus
The coronavirus has led to the death of at least 170 people, all of them in China, CBS News reported this week. More than 7,700 other people were infected globally.
As of Wednesday, there were five confirmed US cases. More than 100 Americans as of Tuesday were tested for the disease.
The Nevada health district warns people who traveled to the Wuhan region and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing within 14 days after they return to contact their health care provider.
Precautions to Prevent Respiratory Illness
Current CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses include:
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your face with a tissue if you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue out in the trash after use.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.