CDC Begins Airport Screenings as Mystery Virus Takes Lives in China

Travelers entering the U.S. from the Chinese city of Wuhan will now be screened for a virus that has left two people dead.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said travelers from Wuhan will now be screened at the three largest ports of entry in the U.S. Those are San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City’s John F. Kennedy airport, according to The New York Times.

The CDC said that it appeared that the initial virus was spread in Wuhan by people who visited an animal and seafood market, but that the virus has apparently been passed from person to person in some limited cases. However, health care workers who treated infected individuals in China did not become infected themselves, the CDC noted.

Although China is the main source of reports about the virus, it has also been reported in Thailand and Japan — but only in people who have been to Wuhan, China.

About 40 people have been sickened as a result of the virus, known officially as 2019-nCoV, the CDC reported.

To conduct the screenings in the U.S., the CDC will beef up its staffing at the three target airports by about 100 people.

“This is a serious situation,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We know it is crucial to be proactive and prepared.”

“Based on current information, however, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is deemed to be low at this time. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions,” the CDC said on its website.

Dr. Martin Cetron, director of the CDC’s division of global migration and quarantine, said between 60,000 and 65,000 people a year travel from Wuhan to the U.S.

David Adams