LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — Authorities began public health screening at Los Angeles International and two other U.S. airports in response to an outbreak of a new coronavirus in China, officials announced Friday.
Effective immediately, travelers from Wuhan, China, to the U.S. will undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at LAX, San Francisco (SFO), and New York (JFK) – the three airports that receive the most travelers from Wuhan, according to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement the enhanced measures.
Officials estimate roughly 5,000 passengers will go through the process in the next couple of weeks at LAX, SFO, and JFK. The first direct flight was expected Friday night at JFK, and the next expected Saturday morning in San Francisco.
CDC is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports to help support existing staff at CDC quarantine stations within those airports.
While current data suggests the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is deemed to be low, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions, officials said.
“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.
Last week, CDC updated a travel health notice for travelers to Wuhan City and an updated Health Alert to health care professionals after two deaths were linked to the mysterious virus.
Health officials in the city of Wuhan say a 69-year-old man fell ill on Dec. 31 and died Wednesday. In total, 41 people in Wuhan have been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, a family of viruses that cause the common cold and more severe diseases like SARS.
Thailand and Japan have reported three cases as well. Most of the people diagnosed with the new virus worked at or visited a particular seafood market in Wuhan that has since been closed for investigation and disinfection.
For the latest information on the outbreak, visit CDC’s Novel Coronavirus 2019 website.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)