2 jets with Americans from China's virus zone land in California


A plane carrying evacuees from the virus zone in China lands at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, in San Diego. (Photo: AP)

Two jets carrying about 350 Americans from the virus zone in China arrived Wednesday at an Air Force base in Northern California. Officials said 178 of them will be quarantined at a hotel on the base for 14 days while others will be quarantined at a Southern California military base.

Guests and staff at the hotel on Travis Air Force Base were moved out ahead of the planes’ arrival, said Technical Sgt. Traci Keller. The Americans were evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is at the center of the new virus outbreak. The base is near the city of Fairfield, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco.

The evacuees range in age from under 2 to over 65 and most are American citizens who either traveled or lived in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the provincial capital, for months or years, said Dr. Henry Walke of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One child on the flight had a fever and was being evaluated at a nearby hospital.

They will receive health evaluations to check for symptoms of the virus and have their temperature taken twice a day. They are not restricted to their rooms, but each family unit was told to stay 6 feet (nearly 2 meters) away from other families, along with other precautions.

“We don’t want kids to share toys between the families,” Walke said.

Other planes carrying Americans from Wuhan will arrive Thursday at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, where they will be quarantined, the CDC said.

One of the planes was scheduled to leave Travis Air Force Base later Wednesday to take Americans to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, where those people will also quarantined for 14 days, the US Northern Command said.

Also Wednesday, health authorities in the US started shipping diagnostic test kits to labs in the US and abroad. By the start of next week, testing for the virus will be done closer to patients, rather than at the CDC’s lab in Atlanta, and states will begin to communicate test results to the public. The CDC plans to update the US case counts three times each week on its website.

“Now is the time to act so we can slow the introduction and impact of this virus in the US,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the CDC. “This is the beginning of what could be a long response.”

The Americans were evacuated a week after another jet with 195 American evacuees from Wuhan arrived at March Air Reserve base in Southern California, where they remain under quarantine.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.