Amer­i­cans from virus zone held at mil­i­tary base

Antelope Valley Press - - NEWS - By AMY TAXIN and MARK THIESSEN

RIVER­SIDE — The 195 Amer­i­cans evac­u­ated from the Chi­nese city at the cen­ter of the new virus out­break are un­der­go­ing three days of test­ing and mon­i­tor­ing at a Cal­i­for­nia mil­i­tary base to en­sure they do not show signs of the ill­ness, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day.

The peo­ple flown out of China on a plane char­tered by the U.S. gov­ern­ment have not been quar­an­tined, Dr. Chris Braden of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion told re­porters af­ter the plane landed at March Air Reserve Base.

Au­thor­i­ties said those evac­u­ated, in­clud­ing U.S. con­sular em­ploy­ees based in the Chi­nese city of Wuhan and fam­i­lies with chil­dren, are tech­ni­cally not re­quired to stay on the base. But all 195 pas­sen­gers have agreed to stay for up to three days while they are eval­u­ated for the ill­ness that’s in­fected thou­sands and killed more than 100, the CDC’s Dr. Nancy Mes­son­nier said.

Of­fi­cials ini­tially said there were 201 pas­sen­gers, but the CDC said later that num­ber in­cluded the six mem­bers of the plane’s crew.

If any pas­sen­gers de­cide they want to leave the base be­fore full med­i­cal eval­u­a­tions are com­pleted, U.S. of­fi­cials would dis­cuss their re­quest, said Dr. Nancy Knight of the CDC.

“They are sit­ting in the mid­dle of a mil­i­tary base,” Knight said. “Any dis­cus­sion around departure would be just that: it would be a dis­cus­sion.”

Braden de­scribed peo­ple as be­ing “very happy to be here,” where they’re get­ting hous­ing, med­i­cal at­ten­tion and test­ing for the virus.

“They wanted to know their sta­tus,” he said.

Of­fi­cials could quar­an­tine any of those evac­u­ated on a case-by-case ba­sis if of­fi­cials de­ter­mine they need to do so, Braden said.

It can take up to 14 days for some­one who is in­fected to de­velop symp­toms, health of­fi­cials be­lieve.

If pas­sen­gers from the char­tered flight show no signs of the virus and leave the base, they will con­tinue to be mon­i­tored by pub­lic health of­fi­cials at their des­ti­na­tions for the re­main­der of a pe­riod last­ing 14 days, he said.

Symp­toms of the virus in­clude fever, cough and in more se­vere cases, short­ness of breath or pneu­mo­nia.

None of the pas­sen­gers showed signs of hav­ing the virus when they were screened be­fore leav­ing Wuhan, the epi­cen­ter of the virus, or when they were screened again dur­ing a re­fu­el­ing stop in An­chor­age, Alaska.

The jet landed at the Cal­i­for­nia base shortly af­ter 8 a.m. A ground crew dressed in white ap­proached the air­craft, and three char­ter-style buses parked near the plane. About 40 min­utes af­ter land­ing, peo­ple could be seen walk­ing from the plane to the first bus, which then de­parted. An­other bus pulled up next to the plane’s bag­gage com­part­ment.

All the pas­sen­gers al­ready un­der­went two health screen­ings in China and the CDC screened them twice more in An­chor­age. One pas­sen­ger re­ceived med­i­cal at­ten­tion for a minor in­jury that hap­pened be­fore board­ing the air­plane in China, Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief med­i­cal of­fi­cer, told re­porters af­ter the plane left.

Some of those ex­pected on the flight from Wuhan were not al­lowed to board be­cause they did not have doc­u­ments they needed to en­ter the U.S., Braden said. One per­son with a fever also was denied board­ing, he said.

Wuhan is the epi­cen­ter of a new virus, which has largely sick­ened peo­ple in China and where all the deaths have been. China has cut off ac­cess to Wuhan and 16 other cities in Hubei prov­ince to pre­vent peo­ple from spread­ing the virus far­ther.


Pas­sen­gers board buses af­ter ar­riv­ing Wed­nes­day on an air­plane car­ry­ing U.S. cit­i­zens be­ing evac­u­ated from Wuhan, China, at March Air Reserve Base in River­side. The pas­sen­gers will un­dergo ad­di­tional screen­ings in Cal­i­for­nia and be placed in tem­po­rary hous­ing.

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