JFK, SFO and LAX will screen arriving passengers for dangerous new respiratory illness

Jan 17, 2020

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Beginning Friday Jan. 17, passengers arriving from Wuhan, China to three U.S. destinations will undergo extra screening by staff from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The agency has deployed about 100 employees to New York (JFK), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). Those three airports receive most of the visitors arriving to the U.S. from Wuhan, though only JFK and SFO have direct flights.

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The CDC said in a statement that the new virus generally presents a low risk to U.S. citizens, but the agency is conducting the screenings as a precaution.

The screenings will include questioning arriving passengers about symptoms, and taking their temperature. Those who have a fever and exhibit symptoms of the disease will be moved to a more in-depth screening.

Doctors with the CDC said on a briefing with reporters that this disease is similar to earlier outbreaks of SARS and MERS, and the agency’s response to those diseases is informing its plan to address the new virus.

The New York Times, which has been reporting on the spread of the disease, said it originated in meat and fish markets near Wuhan, and is contracted through contact with infected animals. According to the paper, about 5,000 passengers are expected to be screened in the next few weeks. So far, two patients have died and at least 45 people have contracted the disease abroad, The Times reported.

Featured photo by Jeff Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images.

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