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Another flight carrying Americans fleeing coronavirus lands in Southern California

A second flight of U.S. citizens fleeing the coronavirus in China arrives Friday.
A second flight carrying U.S. citizens fleeing the coronavirus outbreak in China arrives at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Friday.
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Another flight carrying Americans fleeing the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, arrived Friday at a Southern California military base.

The plane was one of two chartered by the Defense Department to carry about 300 passengers to the U.S., the Pentagon said Thursday night in a statement.

One of the aircraft landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego shortly before 9 a.m., Lance Cpl. Andrew Hiatt said. The flight first stopped in Vancouver, where about 30 Canadian nationals deplaned. Defense Department officials said they offered seats to the Canadians because there was extra room after all U.S. citizens were accommodated.

Of the 232 people quarantined at Miramar, seven have been transported to local hospitals for evaluation after reporting possible coronavirus symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday. Two of them have tested negative, while results for five others were still pending as of Sunday afternoon.

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The second flight landed at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento, where 53 evacuees departed and joined those already under quarantine at the base, a group that now totals 234 people, a CDC spokesman said. The plane flew on to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where more passengers were expected to deplane, and then to Camp Ashland in Omaha.

Once at Travis, four of the passengers were found to have a fever, a possible symptom of coronavirus, and were taken to a local hospital, the CDC said. They were placed in isolation and were continuing to be evaluated Saturday. Another person who arrived at Travis on an evacuation flight that landed Wednesday was also hospitalized after reporting possible symptoms, the CDC said.

Upon arrival, passengers on both flights were placed under 14-day quarantine ordered by the CDC.

The new strain of coronavirus has infected more than 37,000 people and killed more than 800 since it emerged in China in late December.

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In the U.S., 12 people have become infected in six states — six in California, two in Illinois and one each in Arizona, Massachusetts, Washington and Wisconsin. All of the patients had either recently traveled to China or, in two cases, had close contact with someone who had.

The State Department has advised against all travel to China because of the virus and has said that any Americans there should try to return to the U.S. Most commercial airlines have suspended or reduced flights between the two countries.

Last week, the Trump administration declared a public health emergency and announced restrictions on people traveling to the U.S. from China. Now, foreign nationals who recently visited China aren’t allowed to enter the U.S., and returning American citizens are subject to 14-day quarantines.

On Saturday, the Defense Department announced it had agreed to house up to 1,000 people who may need to be quarantined upon arrival from overseas travel at four facilities, including Travis and Miramar.

On Wednesday, the Pentagon said it had also been asked to identify 11 military installations near major airports that could house about 220 additional people under quarantine, if needed. Those “tertiary locations,” each of which could accommodate about 20 travelers if backup housing options become full, included Travis, which is not far from San Francisco International Airport, and March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County, because of its proximity to Los Angeles International Airport, the Pentagon said in a statement.

In total, the Defense Department has conducted five flights evacuating more than 800 people from Wuhan. The Defense Department does not anticipate staging additional flights, officials said Friday.

In addition to the passengers who arrived Friday, nearly 550 people are already under federal quarantine at military bases in California.

Two jets carrying about 350 passengers landed in the state on Wednesday — one at Travis Air Force Base and one at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

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Five of the people quarantined at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar have been taken to local hospitals after showing symptoms of the virus, the CDC has said.

In addition, 195 Americans who were evacuated from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan have been under quarantine at March Air Reserve Base since late last month. Of the group, two children were taken to local hospitals after developing a fever. On Monday, one of the children was returned to the base after testing negative for coronavirus. The second child was returning to the base on Saturday after also testing negative, a spokesman for the Riverside County Department of Public Health said.

In a separate incident, another person traveling from mainland China was transferred from Los Angeles International Airport to March Air Reserve Base on Monday. That person was screened for the virus and released after a short quarantine, officials said.


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