Evacuation flight from coronavirus epicenter Wuhan arrives at California air base as all 201 passengers prepare for final health screenings after passing four previous inspections

Wednesday, January 29, 2020
By Paul Martin

The rescue flight landed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California, just after 8am Wednesday
The 201 passengers will now undergo health screenings and be quarantined at the base for 72 hours
The US government chartered the flight to bring diplomats and US citizens home from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China
All passengers previously passed screenings before departure in Wuhan and during a fuel stop in Alaska
The plane was initially meant to fly to Ontario, California, but was diverted to the base late Tuesday night
In addition to the United States, countries including Japan and South Korea have also planned evacuations
The coronavirus death toll in China stands at 132 with more than 6,000 cases confirmed worldwide

29 January 2020

An evacuation flight bringing 201 Americans home from the Chinese city at the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak has landed at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California.

The plane chartered by the US government to fly diplomats and private citizens back from Wuhan touched down at the air base just after 8am PST Wednesday.

Passengers will now undergo health screenings and be quarantined at the base for 72 hours as they complete the repatriation process.

They’ve already undergone four screenings over the course of the journey – two before departure in Wuhan and another two during a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska, late Tuesday night.

It was originally scheduled to fly to Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California, but was diverted to the air base 25 miles away without explanation late on Tuesday night.

Dr Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, gave an early morning news conference after the plane took off from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport just after 2am.

‘For many of us directly involved in this, it’s become a moving and uplifting experience,’ Zink said. ‘The whole plane erupted into cheers when the crew welcomed them back to the United States.’

State Health Commissioner Adam Crum called the successful screenings ‘the best possible outcome’.

‘We wish these passengers the best of luck as they complete their journeys home and I am deeply grateful to everyone who came together to assist us in helping with this repatriation effort,’ Crum said in a press release.

The state had initially said the plane could carry up to 240 passengers, and Zink said they were prepared for that number. ‘At the end of the day, 201 passengers loaded and 201 passengers left Alaska,’ she said, noting that one passenger received medical attention for a minor injury that happened before boarding the airplane in Wuhan.

Meanwhile in China, the coronavirus death toll has risen to 133 as of Wednesday morning and several countries – including the US and UK – have advised against non-essential travel to the nation.

More than 6,000 people have been sickened by the deadly strain in at least 18 countries amid an international effort to stop the spread.

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