China has confirmed human-to-human transmission in the outbreak of a new SARS-like virus as the number of cases soared and the World Health Organization said it would consider declaring an international public health emergency. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)

ATLANTA (CBS46) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention added Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport to a growing list of U.S. airports implementing public health entry screening as a new coronavirus from China has spread to the United States.

Atlanta-Hartsfield International will be added to the entry screening list joining: San Francisco International; New York (JFK); Los Angeles International (LAX) and Chicago/O'Hare International Airport.

The entry screening was announced by the CDC Tuesday when the agency also revealed the first United States case of the new virus.

“They use a thermometer to scan the forehead and they get a temperature reading,” said Augustus Hudson, director of Emergency Management at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, of the screening process. If an elevated temperature is read, "They’re sent to an enhanced screening where medical personnel will administer advanced medical to those individuals,” Hudson added.

The first U.S. case was found in a U.S. resident who had recently returned from a trip to central China. The virus first appeared in the central China town of Wuhan last month.

Health officials said Tuesday that the man returned to the Seattle area in the middle of last week after traveling to the Wuhan area, where the outbreak began. The man is in his 30s and is in good condition at a hospital in Everett, outside Seattle. He's not considered a threat to medical staff or the public.

People at Atlanta's busy airport say they are not taking any chances sending loved ones off.

“We made sure that she knows to wash her hands, not touch her face, you know just common safety measures, but yes it did alarm me,” said Amy McVay who's daughter flew out of Hartsfield-Jackson airport on an international flight.

The CDC previously said the disease is a coronavirus. That type of virus includes diseases like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) which have killed hundreds in the past. Chinese officials confirmed Monday the disease had spread at least once from human-to-human contact.

According to the CDC, it's currently unclear how the new coronavirus spread between humans. In previous outbreaks of SARS and MERS, it is believed to happen through breathing droplets within close contact of an infected person, similar to how influenza spreads. 

Symptoms associated with the current virus include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Trouble Breathing

The CDC indicated it believes the risk from the current virus to the American public at large "remains low at this time." The CDC has more information about the outbreak here.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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