The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced it will be testing patients with flu-like symptoms for novel coronavirus in five different cities.
Director of the CDC’s Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Nancy Messonnier made the announcement in a Friday media briefing.
As of the briefing, labs in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City will be participating in the surveillance, but “this is just the starting point,” according to Messonnier.
“We plan to expand to more sites in the coming weeks until we have national surveillance,” she said.
The surveillance is said to be a helpful detection tool for “if and when” coronavirus spreads into the community.
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“All of our efforts now are to prevent the sustained spread of the virus in our community. But we need to be prepared for the possibility that it will spread,” Messonnier said. “Results from this surveillance would be an early warning signal to trigger a change in our response strategy.”
To conduct this surveillance, the CDC will be modifying existing surveillance systems used for the flu and viral respiratory disease to be able to detect COVID-19 as well.
The coronavirus tests will only be given to patients who test negative for influenza, NBC News reported.