Deadly Chinese Virus Spreads To Two Countries, Sparking New U.S. Airport Checkpoints

A deadly Chinese virus has begun spreading to other countries, causing three American airports to set up screenings for Chinese passengers. According to The New York Times, the airports are located in the major hubs of New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and the passengers that will be inspected are those arriving from Wuhan, China.

As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the mystery illness first earned headlines weeks ago after scientists were baffled by the then-unknown virus, which had sent several people to the hospital. Since then, researchers have identified the disease as a member of the coronavirus family. The illness causes serious pneumonia that has led to deaths in at least two cases. The coronavirus is believed to be connected to a fish factory in Wuhan, and a majority of the cases have been in the Hubei province.

However, that is not to say that the disease has not spread. Cases have been reported in countries such as Thailand and Japan after travelers from Wuhan carried the disease.

As a precaution, the Centers for Disease Control is beginning screenings at New York's Kennedy International Airport, in addition to San Francisco and Los Angeles International Airports. In total, 100 experts from the CDC will be deployed to the three airports, and checks started over the weekend.

police officer at airport
Getty Images | David McNew
An airport officer walks past international travelers arriving to Los Angeles International Airport on the first day of health screenings for coronavirus

Experts have estimated that around 5,000 travelers from Wuhan will be inspected over the next few weeks. In total, around 65,000 people travel each year to the U.S. from the central Chinese city.

The inspections will reportedly consist of a questionnaire that will ask passengers if they have experienced symptoms such as a cough or fever. In addition, the survey will also ask if travelers had visited meat or seafood markets in Wuhan.

After the questionnaires, passengers will then go through thermal scanners that will take their body temperatures. Those with fevers will then undergo further evaluation.

"This is a serious situation," explained Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. "We know it is crucial to be proactive and prepared."

Health experts have expressed their fears that the new coronavirus could create another SARS epidemic like the one that hit China in 2002. Over 750 people died from the outbreak.

Though the new coronavirus does not seem quite as powerful as the previous SARS virus, analysts have warned that diseases can quickly get out of control.

"It doesn't take much for a virus in general to go from being worrisome to being extremely worrisome, because they tend to morph and mutate a lot," Dr. Messonnier warned.