HARTFORD - The Chinese government has announced a quarantine of the city of Wuhan, China. Airport, train or public transportation out of the region will halt preventing anyone from leaving the area.
With billions of travelers expected to visit China ahead of the Chinese New Year this weekend Federal and State health officials are beginning to look at ways to prevent the virus from spreading.
"What we’re looking at right now is a new strain of coronavirus that causes a wide range of symptoms. Some mild, some more severe," said Lynn Sosa the Deputy State Epidemiologist for the Connecticut Department of Public Health.
Symptoms that Sosa says are still being evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. The new strain of the Coronavirus has effected over 500 people in the Wuhan region of China, 17 of which have died.
Long lines could be seen at the airport in Wuhan for residents trying to leave the area before the lock down went into effect at 10 a.m. local time.
The Coronavirus is transmitted most commonly through person-to-person contact. Mild symptoms are similar to the common cold while severe symptoms could include pneumonia, kidney failure or death.
"It seems that it could affect more severely people who are older or have other medical conditions," said Sosa.
The outbreak is happening at an inopportune time as the Chinese New Year approaches. Three billion travelers are expected to visit China during the 15-day celebration that begins Saturday.
The outbreak has spread outside of Wuhan to other parts of China and neighboring countries including South Korea, Japan, and now a confirmed case in Washington State.
"We need to better understand the disease, we need to better understand the virus and we need to develop vaccines and treatments and that requires a really coordinated international response," said Peter Horby of the University of Oxford's Center of Tropical Medicine and Global Health.
Five major US airports are screening passengers arriving from China including LAX, JFK, Chicago O'Hare, San Fransisco, and Atlanta. The CDC is screening those passengers who arrive with symptoms. Anyone flagged will undergo further testing at local hospitals.
Yale-New Haven Hospital is screening patients with symptoms that have traveled to or have had contact with people from Wuhan in the last 14 days.
"People that are in Connecticut shouldn’t be worried about this virus right now," said Sosa. "We are really concerned with people who have more severe illnesses who actually traveled to that part of China or had direct contact with somebody who we know definitely has this virus."
Anyone who does have the virus will be isolated while the symptoms where off. There currently is not a vaccine for the virus but according to The National Institutes of Health one is being worked on in Atlanta.