NEW YORK, N.Y. – U.S. health officials have announced they will begin screening airline passengers from Wuhan, China, for a new coronavirus that is making people sick.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday it would begin the screening immediately at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.
People traveling from Wuhan will have their temperature checked and be asked about symptoms.
The CDC is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations located at those airports.
The CDC says the additional screenings are part of an effort to better detect and prevent the newly identified 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“2019-nCoV”) that emerged in China last month and has sickened dozens of people in China, Thailand and Japan, and has been tied to two deaths in China.
Based on current information, the CDC says the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is currently deemed to be low. Nevertheless, the CDC says it’s taking proactive precautions.
Chinese health officials report that most of the patients infected with 2019-nCoV have had exposure to a large market where live animals were present, suggesting this is a novel virus that has jumped the species barrier to infect people. They report no sustained spread of this virus in the community, but there are indications that some limited person-to-person spread may have occurred.
“To further protect the health of the American public during the emergence of this novel coronavirus, CDC is beginning entry screening at three ports of entry. Investigations into this novel coronavirus are ongoing and we are monitoring and responding to this evolving situation,” said Martin Cetron, M.D., Director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
The CDC started a similar screening program at U.S. airports in 2014 during a large outbreak of Ebola in West Africa.