PHILADELPHIA - The CDC is now screening passengers from China for coronavirus at 20 major airports across the United States, including Philadelphia International Airport.
"When a passenger presents himself to Customs and Border Protection if they happen to have gone through the area or present any type of symptoms, then they'll be referred to the CDC, screened and referred from there," Philadelphia International Airport Chief Operating Officer Keith Brune said.
British Airways halted all flights to China and American Airlines suspended Los Angeles flights to and from Shanghai and Beijing as efforts to contain a new virus intensifies.
The coronavirus has now infected more people in China than were sickened in the country by the SARS outbreak in 2002-2003. The number of confirmed cases jumped to 5,974, surpassing the 5,327 in mainland China from SARS. The virus has killed more than 130 people.
The British and U.S. carriers on Wednesday joined several Asian carriers that are either suspending or significantly cutting back service there as fears spread about the coronavirus.
Air India and South Korean budget carrier Seoul Air are also halting all flights to the country, and Indonesia's Lion Air plans to do the same. Other carriers including Finnair, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia are slashing service.
Beyond disrupting travel, the move is heightening concerns about the broader economic impact of the virus outbreak. Hotels, airlines, casinos and cruise operators are among the industries suffering the most immediate repercussions, especially in countries close to China. The crisis has also begun to ripple through U.S. companies with operations in China.
Scientists at Philadelphia's Wistar Institute are fast at work. They're part of a group selected to work on a vaccine for the new coronavirus.
"Our fastest so far has been Zika trial which was about 7 months and we aim to significantly shorten that," Dr. David Weiner said.
Dr. David Weiner, director of Wistar's Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, says the faster the better.
"To try to meet this outbreak while it's in progress," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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