Coronavirus concerns: TSA says to keep phones, wallets, keys out of airport bins

As coronavirus concerns grow across the globe, in the U.S. the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is advising airport travelers to keep certain high-touch items out of security bins during standard screening procedures.

In hopes of stopping COVID-19's spread, the agency is instructing people to keep personal items like phones, wallets and keys out of the constantly used bins.

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With the bins often used by hundreds of travelers passing through airport security checkpoint per hour, a spokesperson for the TSA told Fox News on Thursday that travelers should not place phones, wallets and keys in the bins for the time being. Instead, people should secure these personal items in carry-on items, to be screened via X-ray.

In this March 2, 2020 file photo, a health alert for people traveling to China is shown at a TSA security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport.

In this March 2, 2020 file photo, a health alert for people traveling to China is shown at a TSA security checkpoint at the Denver International Airport. (AP)

Following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, the TSA spokesperson also said that airport travelers should wash their hands before and after going through checkpoints.

Regarding the rules for must-have liquid hand sanitizers, the spokesperson said that sanitizers are permitted in carry-on luggage in containers under 3.4 ounces. Airline passengers can also bring individually packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on or checked luggage — even jumbo-sized containers.

“TSA will continue to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding workforce protection. We have also put up CDC notices in TSA areas for public information on coronavirus,” the TSA shared.

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Amid the ongoing outbreak, the federal agency is also doubling down with new measures to keep employees safe.

Earlier this week, a TSA spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that agency employees who closely interact with the traveling public are welcome to wear surgical masks to help fight the virus and its spread. Security screeners are also urged to frequently wash hands and practice respiratory hygiene, they said.

In the hopes of stopping COVID-19's spread, the agency is instructing people to keep personal items like phones, wallets and keys out of the constantly-used bins.

In the hopes of stopping COVID-19's spread, the agency is instructing people to keep personal items like phones, wallets and keys out of the constantly-used bins. (iStock)

As always, screeners are required to wear nitrile gloves when screening an individual or their property. Likewise, swabs used during the screening process – such as at a checkpoint and with checked baggage – will not be re-used on multiple passengers, the spokesperson disclosed.

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On Tuesday, the TSA confirmed that three officers who work at the Mineta San Jose International Airport in Northern California have tested positive for coronavirus.

The officers are receiving medical care, and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home,” the agency said in a statement, according to The Los Angeles Times.

The agency said checkpoints at the airport remain open and it is working with the Centers for Disease Control, the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department “to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public.”

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that the U.S. was suspending all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days beginning Friday at midnight in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.

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"We made a lifesaving move with early action on China. Now we must take the same action with Europe,” the president said in a televised address to the nation.

Fox News’ Brie Stimson contributed to this report.