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article imageCDC takes steps to screen for new coronavirus at some airports

By Karen Graham     Jan 18, 2020 in Health
Public health officials are implementing enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States from Wuhan, China, in response to an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus.
On Friday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began screening passengers who had traveled from Wuhan, China at San Francisco, New York's John F. Kennedy, and Los Angeles international airports for symptoms of a new coronavirus, reports The Hill.
Around 100 additional staff were deployed to the three airports to supplement existing staff at CDC quarantine stations. The CDC warned that its response could change as it learns more from its investigation of the virus. Scientists around the world are studying its genome sequence in the effort to understand it.
The coronavirus is in the same family of those causing the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), however, it seems to be less lethal, according to CTV News Canada.
As of January 11, 2019, Wuhan officials said 41 patients have been diagnosed with nCoV pneumonia, and two have been discharged from the hospital. Seven had severe infections, and one patient died. The rest are listed in stable condition.
Most of the patients, but not all of them, reportedly visited the large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China. The fact that some people did not visit the market suggests some limited person-to-person spread may be occurring, according to the CDC. At the same time, though, the agency says the risk of transmission for the American public is “currently deemed to be low."
This undated handout picture courtesy of the British Health Protection Agency shows the Coronavirus ...
This undated handout picture courtesy of the British Health Protection Agency shows the Coronavirus seen under an electron miscroscope
, British Health Protection Agency/AFP/File
As of Saturday, three travelers - two now back in Thailand and one in Japan who visited Wuhan - but not the market - have been infected with the coronavirus, suggesting human-to-human transmission may be possible.
Genetic findings
Chinese scientists submitted the coronavirus gene sequencing data for posting on, a hub for prepublication data designed to assist with public health activities and research. The post was communicated by Edward Holmes, Ph.D., with the University of Sydney, on behalf of a Chinese group led by Yong-Zhen Zhang, Ph.D., with Fudan University in Shanghai.
Vineet Menachery, Ph.D., with the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) said on Twitter that the Wuhan nCoV appears to be a group 2B coronavirus, which puts it in the same family as the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus.
There is still much testing to do, although scientists are aware of the fact that bat viruses span coronavirus diversity and bats are a dominant host in much of the evolutionary history.
However, Andrew Rambaut, Ph.D., administrator of and professor of molecular evolution at the University of Edinburgh says that while the Muhan nCoV is 89 percent similar to SARS-related bat coronavirus in the Sarbecovirus group of beta coronaviruses - " that doesn't mean it comes from bats. MERS-CoV is 88 percent identical to the nearest known bat virus, and MERS is endemic in camels."
More about coronavirus, Wuhan China, screening at airports, Japan and Thailand, Gene sequencing
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