Story at a glance

  • A new type of coronavirus, the same family of viruses that caused the SARS outbreak, appeared in China in late December.
  • The virus has killed two and infected at least 45, mostly in Wuhan, China.
  • Now, the CDC has announced it will begin screening passengers travelling from Wuhan for the virus at three U.S. airports.

Three major airports in the United States are now screening passengers coming from Wuhan, China, for a new virus that has killed two people and sickened at least 45, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Friday.

It is not yet clear if the disease, a respiratory illness, can spread between people. Most human cases are believed to have originated from exposure to animals in a market selling meat and seafood in Wuhan, the New York Times reports. But a few cases have no discernible link to animals, causing the CDC to exercise caution to ensure the disease does not reach the U.S. 

New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) will have thermal cameras to look for travelers with fever and around 100 experts from the CDC on hand to conduct more detailed screenings. Travelers will also be asked to fill out questionnaires regarding any symptoms they might be experiencing and whether they visited meat or seafood markets while in Wuhan. 

The first flight to be screened will fly into JFK on Friday night, with screening at LAX and SFO beginning on Saturday. Anyone suspected of being infected will be sent to a local hospital for further testing.

This week, two new cases appeared in Thailand and another in Japan, inflaming fears of a potential outbreak.

The illness was first documented in late December in Wuhan, China. The infection is caused by a new type of coronavirus — the same family of viruses responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003, which killed 800 people and infected more than 8,000. 

Another coronavirus causes MERS, a severe respiratory ailment spread by camels and infected people in the Middle East that kills 30 to 40 percent of those it infects. MERS first appeared in Saudi Arabia and other nearby countries in 2012.




Published on Jan 17, 2020