4 Chartered Flights Are Evacuating US Citizens From Wuhan This Week

February 5, 2020 Updated: February 5, 2020
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The chartered flights carrying U.S. citizens from Wuhan, China, this week are likely to be the last.

Two flights out of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, landed on Wednesday morning in California, bringing the number of such flights arriving in the United States since Jan. 29 to three.

Another two flights from Wuhan are scheduled to come later this week—one headed to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas; the other going to Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The State Department does not anticipate chartering any flights after this week, a State Department official said Tuesday.

2 Flights Landed Wednesday

Two flights—carrying a total of about 350 passengers, according to the U.S. Defense Department—landed Wednesday morning at Travis Air Force Base, located between San Francisco and Sacramento.

Passengers from one of the planes are staying at Travis. The other plane refueled before taking its passengers to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego later in the morning.

The passengers at both locations will be under a 14-day quarantine managed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col Chris Mitchell said.

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Deputy Director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Dr. Chris Braden, with Federal and Riverside County public health officials, provides an update on the flight that arrived at March Air Reserve Base from Wuhan, China, in Moreno Valley, Calif., on Jan. 29, 2020. (Matt Hartman/AFP via Getty Images)

These flights come about a week after the first U.S. government-arranged flight left Wuhan. That first chartered plane, carrying nearly 200 U.S. citizens—including diplomats and their families—arrived Jan. 29 at March Air Reserve Base in Southern California, where they also are under a 14-day quarantine.

About 1,000 Americans live in Wuhan, and priority on chartered flights was given to U.S. citizens who are “most at risk for contracting coronavirus” if they stay in the city, the State Department has said.

Father Waits to Reunite With Wife and Children

San Diego resident Ken Burnett said his wife and two young children are believed to have been on one of the flights that landed in California on Wednesday.

The three were holed up in a high-rise apartment for about two weeks in Wuhan, which was virtually shut down because of the outbreak. Burnett, waiting for them in the United States, said the family struggled for information and assistance from officials to get seats on the plane.

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A lone car drives down a deserted street in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 26, 2020. (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

“We feel frustrated with that process,” Burnett told CNN. “But in the end, we just want our family safe, however that has to be done.”

“Until I know they are here, that’s when I really will celebrate.”

Everyone aboard the chartered flights were screened for symptoms before they departed and will subjected to CDC screenings and requirements for monitoring, the State Department official said.

U.S. citizens returning from China on commercial flights are being rerouted to airports that can handle extra health screenings, and passengers may be subject to quarantine, according to new federal rules that went into effect Sunday.

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