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New York fugitive monitored for coronavirus at detention facility following China travels

A fugitive from Brooklyn, New York, who recently returned from China is under observation for the novel coronavirus at a detention facility in Buffalo, local authorities said.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office in Buffalo said in a statement that 42-year-old Kevin Qiu is being held at the Erie County Holding Center for an outstanding warrant from Pennsylvania.

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On Wednesday, he attempted to enter the U.S. from Canada via the Peace Bridge, which connects the two countries. The man reportedly told U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers that he recently visited China, prompting them to conduct a health screening, as per recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kevin Qiu.

Kevin Qiu.
(Westtown-East Goshen Regional Police Department)

“Qiu was ultimately detained Wednesday at the Peace Bridge by U.S. CBP Officers for the fugitive warrant out of Chester County, Pennsylvania. On February 13, Qiu was admitted to the holding center pending his court appearance and possible extradition,” the sheriff’s office said. It’s not clear what the warrant is related to.

Though Qiu is not yet showing any symptoms, officials assess him as “medium risk” for the virus because of his recent travels. Wuhan, China, is considered the epicenter of the outbreak, though it’s not clear if that’s where Qiu went. Earlier this month, the Department of State upgraded its China travel advisory to level 4, which urges citizens to avoid traveling to the country altogether. 

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“The Sheriff’s Office notified the New York State Department of Health and the Erie County Department of Health, and all parties are working to establish protocols, precautions, and protections for jail staff and other inmates,” the sheriff’s office added, noting “medical professionals will be monitoring Qiu’s temperatures and other virals on a set schedule.”

It’s not currently clear how long he will be held at the detention facility or when he may be extradited to Pennsylvania.

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