CDC to begin airport screenings for cases of new Chinese virus

Public health officials are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States from Wuhan, China, in response to an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus. 

Beginning Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said travelers from Wuhan will undergo entry screening for symptoms at San Francisco, New York’s John F. Kennedy, and Los Angeles international airports, which receive most of the travelers from Wuhan.

The agency is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations located at those airports.

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The virus, which can cause both the common cold and more severe diseases like SARS, has left two people dead and at least 40 people sickened in central China. It has since spread to Japan and Thailand, but the cases have all occurred in travelers from Wuhan.

According to the CDC, most of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan have reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market. However, some patients in the outbreak reportedly have not had exposure to live animal markets, meaning that some limited person-to-person spread may be occurring.

The CDC said that based on current information, the risk of the transmission of the virus to the American public is “currently deemed to be low,” but the agency is taking proactive measures, including entry screening.

The CDC said the investigation into the virus is just beginning, and the agency may adjust screening procedures and other response activities as more information is gathered.

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