Virus screening at US airports

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Travelers from Wuhan, China, arriving in the USA are now undergoing entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three US airports.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the USA on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China. This activity is in response to an outbreak in China caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (2019 nCoV), with cases since detected in Thailand and Japan.

The US airports affected are the three that receive the bulk of travelers from Wuhan: San Francisco International, John F Kennedy International, New York, and Los Angeles International.

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, director of CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.

Based on current information, the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is currently deemed to be low. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.

Entry screening is part of a layered approach used with other public health measures already in place to detect arriving travelers who are sick (such as detection and reporting of ill travelers by airlines during travel and referral of ill travelers arriving at a US port of entry by CBP) to slow and reduce the spread of any disease into the USA.

CDC is deploying about 100 additional staff to its quarantine stations at the three airports and is actively monitoring the situation for information about the source of outbreak, and the risk for further spread of the virus through person-to-person or animal-to-person transmission.

According to CDC, the organization may adjust screening procedures and other response activities as this outbreak investigation continues and more is learned about the newly emerging virus. Entry screening alone is not a guarantee against the possible importation of this new virus but is an important public health tool during periods of uncertainty and part of a multi-layered government response strategy. As new information emerges, CDC will reassess entry screening measures and could scale activities up or down accordingly.

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Tara has worked for UKi Media & Events since 2013, initially as a freelancer. She has been a journalist for over a decade and has worked for a range of publications, including Personnel Today, Management Today and The Grocer.

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