Health officials at three major US airports have said that they will begin screening passengers arriving from the Chinese city of Wuhan for pneumonia.
Following the outbreak of a deadly viral strain of pneumonia in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, has dispatched workers to three American airports.
Some 100 employees from the leading national public health institute in the United States have been dispatched to Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), and New York’s John F. Kennedy airports to monitor passengers arriving from China.
62 people in Wuhan have been infected
As of yesterday (Saturday), the Municipal Health Commission in Wuhan said that four new cases of the virus have been detected. The total known number of people infected now stands at 62, of which two people have died, and five are in a critical condition.
Radio station Voice of America was on hand at San Francisco International Airport on Saturday morning to follow the screening process after a flight landed from China.
According to passengers, the screening process was well organized, with each passenger having their temperature taken and a form filled out.
One of the passengers on the flight, when asked by the American external broadcaster, Qi Zhou said:
“They lead you to another room. So there are doctors there. There are different equipment there. They can measure your temperature there. They have all things there like face masks, the forms so you can let them know how to contact you.
“I think they are prepared well,” Zhou said.
Another passenger on the flight, student Sunny Xing, explained how they were screened in groups.
“They told us to stay on the plane. They said first 10 people, you can go down,” Xing said.
“Temperature and a form, that was it.”
The new 2019-CoV is related to SARS
This new strain of pneumonia is believed to have started in the city of Wuhan and is from the same family of coronaviruses as SARS. During an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome 17 years ago, around 800 people lost their lives to the disease. Wuhan, China has a population of 11 million people, but what is of greater concern to world health authorities is that 1.4 billion Chinese are expected to travel overseas for Chinese New Year celebrations.
Together with the cases already reported in China, one person in both Thailand and Japan has been diagnosed with the illness. According to Chinese health officials, the outbreak seems to be connected to an outdoor market where the people infected had exposure to live animals.
This suggests that what is being called 2019-nCoV is a novel virus that has spread from animals to humans.
The CDC will continue monitoring flights arriving from China
The Chinese also report that, of the several hundred healthcare workers in contact with the infected patients, none had contracted the disease.
There are, however indications to suggest that some person-to-person spread of the virus may have occurred.
With this in mind, the CDC will continue monitoring patients arriving from China until the outbreak of 2019-CoV is deemed to be contained.