The United States will begin screening efforts at three US airports to detect travelers from the central Chinese city of Wuhan who may have symptoms of a new respiratory virus that so far has killed two people and infected 45 more, public health officials said on Friday.
The new coronavirus strain, discovered in the central city of Wuhan, has caused alarm because of its connection to severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed almost 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-03, reports The Guardian.
Thailand has reported two cases of the coronavirus from Chinese travellers from Wuhan this week, while Japan has confirmed one case involving a Japanese national who travelled to Wuhan.
The World Health Organization said on Sunday that some of the new cases appear not to be linked to the Huanan seafood market, believed to be the centre of the outbreak.
Many of China's 1.4 billion people will travel domestically and overseas during the Lunar New Year break that begins next week, raising concerns about the virus spreading to other countries.
No human-to-human transmission has been confirmed so far but authorities have previously said the possibility "cannot be excluded".
The four individuals were diagnosed with pneumonia on Thursday and are in stable condition, the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said in a statement published shortly after midnight.
The Daxing health commission in the capital Beijing said it had confirmed two cases of coronavirus, while the southern Guangdong province's health commission confirmed one case in Shenzhen. Canada also has a number of standard border measures to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases in Canada, the statement said.
A total of 201 people have been diagnosed with the virus in China. "Some patients in the outbreak reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, suggesting that some limited person-to-person spread may be occurring".
Wuhan's deputy mayor, Chen Xiexin, said on the state broadcaster CCTV at the weekend that infrared thermometers had been installed at airports, railway stations and coach stations across the city. The first case of infection was also recorded in Japan. Almost 300,000 body temperature tests had been carried out, according to CCTV.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the screening at the San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles airports would begin on Friday and focus on travelers to the United States via direct or connecting flights from Wuhan.