Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Screenings to detect a new strain of the coronavirus from China begin Friday at three U.S. airports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced.
Travelers from Wuhan, an interior Chinese province, will undergo entry screening for symptoms at international airports in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. The CDC will add about 100 staff members at the airports to enhance existing staff at CDC quarantine stations.
"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection will implement enhanced health screenings to detect ill travelers traveling to the United States on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan, China," the CDC said in a statement Friday. "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."
The Thailand and Japan cases involve travelers from Wuhan, where two people have died and at least 40 more have been sickened by the virus. While most incidents involve patients who have a connection to a large seafood and animal market in Wuhan, some patients were not exposed to the market, suggesting a person-to-person spread of the virus. The market has been closed since Jan. 1.
"Based on current information, the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is currently deemed to be low," the Friday statement added. Nevertheless, CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions."
The disease has been identified as a new coronavirus infection which the World Health Organization said is similar to the virus behind severe acute respiratory syndrome, better known as SARS, which killed hundreds in Hong Kong and mainland China from 2002 to 2003. It can cause a low-grade cold or lead to more serious symptoms.