3 major US airports to check incoming passengers for potentially deadly virus

People coming into the U.S. from central China may be infected with the coronavirus, warn health officials.
3:35 | 01/18/20

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Transcript for 3 major US airports to check incoming passengers for potentially deadly virus
We want to turn to new screenings in place at three major U.S. Airports to check incoming passengers for a potentially deadly virus. The first of these screenings happening overnight at JFK international airport. That's where ABC's Stephanie Ramos joins us with the latest developments. Stephanie, good morning to you. Reporter: Whit, good morning. About 60,000 people travel into the U.S. From Wuhan, China, every year. This is why CDC officials are taking this new deadly respiratory virus so seriously. Wuhan is where it was first reported and screenings started here at JFK last night and they continue this morning at San Francisco's international airport where another direct flight from Wuhan is expected to land. This morning, U.S. Airports are screening airline passengers who are arriving from China for the new deadly virus that the CDC says has made dozens of people sick and has killed two. The CDC is sending 100 health officials to assist at San Francisco international airport, L.A.X. And New York's JFK where this flight from the outbreak city of Wuhan arrived overnight. Experts say this new type of virus called the coronavirus typically causes symptoms of the common cold but can lead to pneumonia. Federal health officials will take temperatures and ask passengers if they have any symptoms. They're expecting to screen about 5,000 passengers at these three airports for the next few weeks. They're really going to be diverted into a separate area from everyone else so we're not expecting this to affect the overall arrival activity at sfo. Reporter: Many cases of the virus traced back to this food market in Wuhan. Coronaviruses are often found in animals. It's unclear if this new one can spread easily from person to person. Countries like Thailand and Japan screening incoming airline passengers as well as a precaution. We have done the best we can. We have alerted people to take precaution when they travel from China or to China. Reporter: The CDC is taking that extra precaution here. They've even set up special quarantine areas here at the airport. Whit. All right, Stephanie, our thanks to you. Let's bring in Dr. Jennifer Ashton. Dr. Ashton. Good morning, whit. Great to see you. Good morning. There seems to be a lot of unknowns with this virus. What is the most important thing for people to know? Well, let's start with what we know and what we don't know. This coronavirus is a novel or new strain. Generally as we heard Stephanie say in humans it can cause mild or moderate cold-like symptoms. What we don't know, if it could we don't know the incubation period. We don't know how contagious this is in humans so right now a lot to be discovered about this. When people hear about airport screenings it's very alarming to hear that sort of thing especially if you're traveling. Why is the CDC taking this important step? Well, I think this is not just for optics. It's not just for show. There's no reason to panic here but I think that in speaking to some of the country's top public health officials and infectious disease specialists last night, they made it clear to me that this is an evolving and dynamic situation. The thought is that the risk to the overall U.S. Population at this time is low, but history is important. This comes from the same family as the sars and mers virus and that came with a high death rate and that is why people in this country are taking it very seriously. All right, Dr. Ashton, thank you very much. President trump's impeachment trial beginning in earnest on Tuesday in the united

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