The passengers, which number in the hundreds, will be under a federal quarantine for 14 days as Centers for Disease Control officials screen them for symptoms of this coronavirus.
These are the second and third flights of U.S. nationals being flown out of China to remove them from the coronavirus outbreak. The first flight, of 195 Americans, landed on Jan. 29 at March Air Base in Riverside County, just outside of Los Angeles. The two new flights are going to two other military bases: Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, and Travis Air Force Base, midway between San Francisco and Sacramento, CNN reported.
The Centers for Disease Control said that more flights will arrive this week and will also go to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, said in a press briefing on Monday that the passengers have been checked for symptoms before boarding the planes in Wuhan, and upon their arrival in the U.S., health officials will “monitor the health of these people, including temperature checks and observation for respiratory symptoms.”
“We do not believe these people pose a risk to the communities where they are being temporarily housed as we are taking measures to minimize any exposure,” she added.
The federal quarantine on the over 500 Americans arriving from China is the nation’s first in over 50 years.
Currently, none of the evacuated passengers have been diagnosed with coronavirus. However, there are 11 confirmed cases across the U.S. as of Wednesday — six in California, two in Chicago, and one each in Seattle, Phoenix and Boston.
The majority of those patients had recently returned from Hubei province in China, where Wuhan is located.
The Chinese government has since quarantined nearly 35 million residents in and around Hubei and grounded all flights, while the three major U.S. carriers — Delta, American and United — have suspended all flights to China.
And on Friday, the Trump administration announced that they will ban any non-U.S. citizens arriving from China and quarantine any Americans who came from Hubei in the last 14 days. They are also requiring that all flights from China go to 11 airports with enhanced health screenings.
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As of Wednesday, there are 24,324 cases of coronavirus in China and 490 have died from the respiratory illness. The number of Chinese deaths has already exceeded that of the 2002-3 SARS outbreak, when there were 349 deaths, however the mortality rate — about 10 percent — was much higher than this coronavirus, which is around 2 percent.
And a significant number of people are recovering from this coronavirus. Chinese officials said that 262 people left the hospital on Tuesday, and in the U.S., the man who had the first confirmed case of coronavirus also went home.
Messionnier said that the risk of developing this coronavirus is “low” for the average American, and that the seasonal flu is more of a concern.
“Our guidance is that at this time of year, the best things you can do are the things that we generally recommend at this time of year to prevent the spread of infectious diseases,” she said Thursday. “Wash your hands, cover your cough, take care of yourself, and keep alert to the information that we’re providing, because we’ll provide new information as it becomes available.”