CDC officials say people shouldn't freak out and that more common illnesses such as the flu are much bigger threats to Americans than this new virus from China. Global health authorities are on particular alert because of the millions of people expected to travel around the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.
Health authorities in Wuhan have tracked 763 contacts of the infected people there, including more than 400 health workers, and have not identified any subsequent infections among them. Till 11 January, 41 confirmed cases have been reported so far, of which one has died. Further, in severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure or can even prove to be fatal.
Starting today (Jan. 17), people traveling from the city of Wuhan - where the outbreak originated - to the United States, will undergo screening at three USA airports: San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX), according to a statement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
But a study from London's Imperial College suggests there could be more than 1,723 cases in Wuhan alone.
China has not announced any travel restrictions but authorities in Hong Kong have stepped up detection measures, including rigorous temperature checkpoints for inbound travellers.
United States authorities have said they would start screening at three airports to detect travellers arriving via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan who may have symptoms of the new virus.
Thailand said it was screening passengers arriving in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket and would soon introduce similar controls in the beach resort of Krabi.
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In the latest reported cases, a 64-year-old man from China and a 61-year-old female Singapore resident were admitted to a hospital for further assessment and treatment after they arrived here from Wuhan.
"For Wuhan to have exported three cases to other countries would imply there would have to be many more cases than have been reported".
The statement also said that based on current information, the risk from 2019-nCoV to the American public is now deemed to be low, but that the CDC is taking proactive preparedness precautions.
Health officials say the new virus discovered in Wuhan does not appear to be as lethal as SARS but admit they still know little about it, including its origins or how easily it can be transmitted from person to person. The second death in China was reported yesterday, identified as a 69-year-old man also in Wuhan who was found to have severe damage to multiple organs and pulmonary tuberculosis.
The Wuhan commission referred queries on the report to China's National Health Commissi5on and the Hubei provincial government.
Several people complained about censorship of online posts, while others made comparisons to 2003 when Beijing drew criticism from the World Health Organization for under-reporting the number of Sars cases.