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Chicago's O'Hare To Begin Testing Travelers From China For Coronavirus

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The coronavirus is claiming more lives in China – with nine people now dead and 440 infected.

Meanwhile, the first U.S. case was found in Seattle. In Chicago, O'Hare International Airport has joined four other U.S. airports that are screening travelers arriving from China.

The goal is to stop a possible outbreak in Chicago.

The enhanced medical screening will take place at O'Hare starting this week, with the Chinese New Year just days away and travel to and from China expected to increase.

Federal health inspectors will be stationed at the International Terminal as travelers come in from Wuhan, China – where it is believed the this strain of coronavirus originated.

Travelers coming into the United States will be funneled into the five airports. In addition to O'Hare are airports in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Atlanta.

CBS 2's Jim Williams reported only one flight flew into O'Hare Tuesday afternoon from China, from Shanghai, more than 400 miles from Wuhan.

On Thursday, authorities said a man in Washington state was recovering from the pneumonia-like illness after visiting the Wuhan area. He was reported in good condition.

The man who was infected in Washington state arrived back in the U.S. on Jan. 15.

The new coronavirus strain never before seen in people.

"There's a lot to learn about this novel virus, which was just identified a few weeks ago," said Dr. Sharon Welbel, the infectious disease director for Cook County Health. "I do think that we're prepared I think the fact that there was communication, it seems, early on."

Authorities believe the virus might have started at a food market in Wuhan.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. But in extreme situations, coronavirus can cause kidney failure, pneumonia, and even death.
"First of all, we'll be overly cautious," Welbel said.

Meanwhile, Yvonne Yen owns Oceania Tours, a travel agency in Chinatown – and expects her business to be affected.

"We may have some cancellations," Yen said. "I don't want that to happen again."

The SARS virus in 2002-2003 nearly tanked her business. Right now, she said it is too early to tell what impact coronavirus will have

"We needed two to three years to recover our business," Yen said.

There is no vaccine for the coronavirus, and there is a concern on the part of health officials that symptoms might not display until days after traveling through the airport medical checkpoints.

CBS 2's Jim Williams and Charlie De Mar contributed to this report.

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