Canada, U.S. to screen airline passengers from China for new illness

Canada, U.S. to screen airline passengers from China for new illness

Wuhan officials said that last weekend 41 people have been diagnosed with pneumonia by the new coronavirus and a 61-year-old man died.

The CDC and CBP began screenings January 17 at San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports to detect ill travelers to this country on direct or connecting flights from Wuhan in response to an outbreak there caused by a novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) that has resulted in 40 confirmed infections and two deaths in humans from the virus whose origin is being investigated in that city in Central China.

Health authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of SARS, which cropped up in late 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing almost 800 people. They report no sustained spread of this virus in the community, but there are indications that some limited person-to-person spread may have occurred.

A 69-year-old man surnamed Xiong fell ill with the respiratory condition on December 31, according to a statement late Thursday from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

The virus was also found in Thailand and Japan in each case in people who had recently visited Wuhan.

"He has been admitted for further assessment and treatment, and isolated as a precautionary measure", a ministry spokesman said.

"The earlier we detect a case, the more we can protect the public", said Dr. Martin Cetron, the director of CDC's Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.

A statement released by the health ministry said, "An infection with a novel coronavirus has been reported from China".

The risk to the country is described as "very low", although officials stressed that they were monitoring events in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the disease has killed at least two and infected a further 45. It has been closed since Jan 1.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said the virus could spread and reportedly warned hospitals worldwide to prepare for cases.

The WHO said Thursday that "much remains to be understood about the new coronavirus".

Not enough was known to "draw definitive conclusions about how it is transmitted", a statement added.

Health officials say a 69-year-old man got sick on New Year's Eve and tested positive for the pneumonia-like virus, dying two weeks later. She was reported to be in stable condition earlier this week.

However, some patients, including the original case in Thailand and the case in Japan, reported not visiting the Huanan seafood market.

Almost 50 people are known to have been infected and so far involve only individuals who have travelled to or live in Wuhan, but the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that a wider outbreak is possible. Coronaviruses, which include SARS and MERS, originate in bats but can spread to other animals, and from there, jump to humans.

Fears that the virus will spread are growing ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of millions of Chinese move around the country and many others host or visit extended family members living overseas.

The busiest seasons for travel to the US from China are August and January, Cetron said.

"Scarier than panic is treating something too lightly", wrote a Chinese web-user on Weibo, the country's Twitter-like social media platform.

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