U.S. to screen passengers for new China coronavirus at three airports
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[January 18, 2020]
By Julie Steenhuysen and Manas Mishra
(Reuters) - The United States will begin
screening efforts at three U.S. airports to detect travelers from the
central Chinese city of Wuhan who may have symptoms of a new respiratory
virus that so far has killed two people and infected 45 more, public
health officials said on Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the screening
at the San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles airports would begin on
Friday and focus on travelers to the United States via direct or
connecting flights from Wuhan.
So far, the new virus has spread outside of China to Japan and Thailand,
and CDC officials said in a conference call with reporters that they
expect more cases will be reported outside of China. The risk to
Americans is deemed to be low, the CDC said.
Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC's Division of Global Migration
and Quarantine, said the CDC will be sending about 100 additional staff
to the three airports -- Los Angeles International, San Francisco
International and New York's John F. Kennedy International -- to
supplement existing staff at quarantine stations located at those
Under the screening procedures, travelers from Wuhan will be taken to a
separate area in the airport, where they will complete a questionnaire
and be checked for fever. Those with symptoms will be asked additional
health- and exposure-related questions, and those needing more follow-up
will be referred to a designated healthcare facility for more testing.
The CDC said it may adjust screening procedures as the outbreak
The Chinese virus is a coronavirus, a large family of viruses that can
cause infections ranging from the common cold to severe acute
respiratory syndrome, or SARS, a highly infectious virus that originated
in China in 2002 and eventually traveled to 37 countries, killing 774
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International travelers arrive at John F. Kennedy international
airport in New York City, U.S., February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan
So far, health officials do not consider the new virus from China to
be as lethal as SARS, but the investigation is evolving and much is
still not known about whether the virus can spread easily from
person to person.
"This is the stage of the investigation where we need to proceed
cautiously and be prepared for any eventuality," Dr. Nancy
Messonnier, a CDC expert in respiratory diseases, said on the
"It's highly plausible" that there will be a case in the United
States, Messonnier said. "That is why we are moving forward with
China health officials report that most of the patients infected
with the virus have had exposure to a large market where live
animals were present, suggesting the virus is new and has jumped
from animals to humans.
It is still not clear how well the virus can be transmitted, but
there are indications of some limited spread from person-to-person,
CDC officials said.
The World Health Organization this week provided guidance to
hospitals worldwide about infection prevention and control in case
the new virus spreads. There is no specific treatment for the new
virus, but antivirals are being considered.
(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Manas Mishra in
Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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