On Friday, US health officials said all passengers from Wuhan, China, will be screened upon arrival in the US for a deadly respiratory virus.
The officials will screen all passengers from Wuhan who arrive at New York’s JFK Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Los Angeles’s LAX.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the officials have been dispatched to those airports just before the peak China-to-US travel season. It is estimated that more than 5,000 people will travel from Wuhan to American for the Chinese Lunar New Year on January 25.
Director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Dr. Nancy Messonnier told reporters, “I think it’s highly plausible that there will be at least one case in the United States. That’s the reason we’re moving forward so quickly with this screening.”
The CDC said it believed the current risk of spreading in American is low. However, Dr. Messonnier said, “We’re concerned any time there is a new virus or new pathogen emerging in a population that hasn’t seen it before. What it means is that populations don’t have existing immunity, and we don’t have specific treatments or vaccines.”
The newly discovered coronavirus is known as “2019 nCoV.” In China, at least 45 cases have been reported so far. Two deaths have been reported. Also, the virus has affected two people in Thailand and one in Japan.
Dr. William Schaffner from Vanderbilt University told NBC News, “So far none of the health care providers who have taken care of the people in China have acquired the infection, so we hope it’s not readily transmissible.”
All passengers coming from Wuhan will be screened for fever and respiratory symptoms. Those who are suspected to have inflicted by the virus will be “triaged and quarantined” until further testing can be done, which could take a day.
The signs and symptoms of the new virus include fever, a runny nose, cough, and sore throat. If left untreated, the infection could lead to pneumonia.
So far, there have been no indications that this virus is as dangerous as SARS, which was first detected in China in 2003. The 2003 SARS outbreak sickened nearly 8,100 and killed 800 people.