The virus, which was first reported in Wuhan in late December, has sickened more than 300 people, claimed at least six lives and spread to at least four other nations, according to the World Health Organization. CDC officials confirmed it is spreading through human-to-human contact and is the same general type that caused an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in 2003, as well as some forms of the common cold.
The CDC on Monday launched its Emergency Operations Center and is increasing its travel health notice for China from a level one to a level two, which advises enhanced precautions. Officials also are beginning to screen travelers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport, in addition to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York’s John F. Kennedy international airports. As part of the mobilization, education efforts to make passengers aware of the virus are beginning, in English and Mandarin.
The World Health Organization on Wednesday will consider whether to declare an emergency declaration over the new virus. HHS Secretary Alex Azar is also expected to soon decide whether to declare a public health emergency in the United States.