Plane With Americans Evacuated From China Lands in California

January 29, 2020 Updated: January 29, 2020
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A plane carrying some 200 Americans who were in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the new coronavirus started, landed in California on Jan. 29, footage from local stations showed.

The plane landed around 8:15 a.m. local time at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County. It was originally slated to land at Ontario International Airport about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.

The Americans, including U.S. contractors, State Department personnel, and other U.S. citizens, first landed in Alaska to refuel.

Everyone passed two medical screenings, Alaska health authorities said in a press release. Passengers were also screened twice before departing Wuhan and monitored while on board.

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A Boeing 747 aircraft sits on the tarmac of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in Anchorage, Alaska on Jan. 28, 2020. (Michael Dinneen/AP Photo)

“For many of us directly involved, this has been a moving and uplifting experience,” said Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink in a statement.

“The whole plane erupted in cheers when the crew said, ‘Welcome home to the United States.’ It is easy to stay focused on all that we had to do in a short period of time to prepare and respond, but at the end of the day, this mission was about people. It was about American citizens, some of whom were working to serve our country. It was about families, and it was about helping each other in a time of need.”

The passengers will undergo additional screening in California before being placed in temporary housing. Officials haven’t said how long the passengers will be isolated.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Department of Defense press secretary Alyssa Farah said: “March Air Reserve Base and the Department of Defense stand ready to provide housing support to [the Department of Health and Human Services] as they work to handle the arrival of nearly 200 people, including Department of State employees, dependents and US citizens evacuated from Wuhan, China.”

The support wouldn’t negatively impact operations at the base. Department of Defense personnel wouldn’t directly be in contact with the evacuees, who wouldn’t have access to any locations on base other than their assigned housing, the statement said.

If people who are quarantined get sick, they’ll be transported to a local civilian hospital.

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People wearing face masks walk on a street in Nara, western Japan, on Jan. 29, 2020. (Nobuki Ito/Kyodo News via AP)

Five people in America have tested positive for 2019 Novel Coronavirus, which originated in China last month, including two in California. All six were in Wuhan before traveling to the United States. Dozens of others are in isolation as officials await test results.

There were reports that the U.S. government was considering suspending flights from China amid the outbreak. Health Secretary Alex Azar said that the option is on the table but a final decision hasn’t been made yet.

Azar told reporters on Tuesday that screening would be expanded from five to 20 airports as officials continued to assess the rapidly evolving situation.

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