Public Health Screening to Begin at 3 U.S. Airports for 2019 Novel Coronavirus (“2019-nCoV”)

Atlanta, GA (STL.News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States 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 exported cases to Thailand and Japan.

Starting January 17, 2020, travelers from Wuhan to the United States will undergo entry screening for symptoms associated with 2019-nCoV at three U.S. airports that receive most of the travelers from Wuhan, China: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports.

“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.

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 United States.

CDC is deploying about 100 additional staff to the three airports (SFO, JFK, and LAX) to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations located at those airports.

CDC is actively monitoring this situation for pertinent information about the source of outbreak, and risk for further spread through person-to-person or animal-to-person transmission.  CDC 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 multilayered government response strategy.  As new information emerges, CDC will reassess entry screening measures and could scale activities up or down accordingly.

On Jan. 11, 2020, CDC updated a Level 1 Travel Health Notice (“practice usual precautions”) for travelers to Wuhan City and an updated Health Alert to health care professionals and public health partners with new and updated guidance is forthcoming.

China health officials report that most of the patients infected with 2019-nCoV have had exposure to a large market where live animals were present, suggesting this is a novel virus that has jumped the species barrier to infect people.  Chinese authorities additionally report that several hundred health care workers caring for outbreak patients are being monitored and no spread of this virus from patients to health care workers has been seen.  They report no sustained spread of this virus in the community, however there are indications that some limited person-to-person spread may have occurred.  CDC is responding to this outbreak out of an abundance of caution, ready to detect people infected with 2019-CoV.