Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention press briefing.,
Four of the new cases are in California, and one in Massachusetts. Although four of the new cases have recent travel history to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV outbreak, the fifth is a close household contact of one of the other California patients, said Dr. Messonnier. This last case is the second instance of person-to-person spread of 2019-nCoV in the United States.
“We expect to find additional cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States,” she said. “We expect to see more cases of person-to-person spread among close contacts. And we continue to expect this will happen given the explosive nature of this outbreak in China.”
As of the morning of Feb. 3, 167 persons under investigation, or PUIs, for possible 2019-nCoV have tested negative for the virus, and an additional 82 PUIs have testing pending – this latter figure includes some tests that are still in transit to the CDC, said Dr. Messonnier.
During the briefing, Dr. Messonnier emphasized both the aggressive nature of the U.S. public health response and the rationale for quick and assertive action. “The goal of our public health response is to protect and contain,” she said. “Strong measures now may blunt the impact of this virus on the United States.”
She cited the intensity of transmission in Hubei Province, the expansion of transmission to other provinces in China, the expansion of cases outside of China, and sporadic ongoing deaths from 2019-nCoV as drivers of the aggressive U.S. public health response.
A presidential proclamation is currently in place that bars U.S. entry to foreign nationals who have visited mainland China within the past 14 days; the ban does not apply to travelers from Hong Kong and Macao. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens and individuals who have U.S. permanent resident status are exempted from the entry ban and will be allowed entry into the United States.
However, explained Dr. Messonnier, those who have traveled to China recently and are permitted entry will be subject to screening. All passengers with such recent travel will be directed to one of 11 U.S. airports set up to perform additional screening.
As of Feb 3, the list of airports includes:
- San Francisco International Airport in California.
- Los Angeles International Airport in California.
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia.
- Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Hawaii.
- O’Hare International Airport in Illinois.
- Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan.
- Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport in Texas.
- Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington.