U.S. to Expand Screenings for Wuhan Coronavirus

Travelers arriving from Wuhan, China — epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic — will be screened at 20 ports of entry to the United States, federal officials said on Tuesday.

“Right now, there is no spread of this virus in our communities at home,” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news briefing in Washington.

“The coming days and weeks are likely to bring more cases including the possibility of person-to-person spread,” he added. “Our goal is to contain this virus and prevent sustained spread of the virus in our country.”

After repeated offers of assistance by international health officials, Chinese authorities agreed on Tuesday to permit teams of experts coordinated by the World Health Organization to visit China to help with research and containment efforts.

At five major airports in the United States, the C.D.C. already is screening passengers from Wuhan, China, for symptoms of coronavirus infection.

But the agency also oversees a comprehensive quarantine system, which includes permanent quarantine stations at 20 airports and land border crossings. These posts are staffed with medical officers who routinely screen sick passengers and decide whether they can enter the United States.

Those stations will be equipped and staffed to perform screenings specifically for the Wuhan coronavirus, officials said at the briefing.

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“Americans should know this is a potentially very serious public health threat, but at this point Americans should not worry for their own safety,” Alex M. Azar, secretary of health and human services, said at the briefing. “This is a very fast-moving, constantly changing situation.”

“All options have to be on the table, including travel restrictions,” he added. “But diseases are not terribly good at respecting borders.”

Please check back for updates on this developing story.