Riverside (United States) (AFP) – Some 200 US citizens evacuated from the Chinese city at the heart of a growing outbreak of a deadly virus landed at a military base in California on Wednesday, where they will be monitored for symptoms.
They were met on the tarmac at the March Air Reserve Base in Riverside by emergency vehicles and three buses, as personnel in biological hazard suits stood by.
The Department of Defense said the evacuees — plucked from the eastern city of Wuhan — will be sent to local hospitals if they are suspected of being infected with the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.
The epidemic has killed more than 130 people and spread around the world since it first emerged in a live food market in Wuhan in December.
Alyssa Farah, the department’s spokeswoman, said in a statement the base stood ready to provide housing for the group, which includes State Department employees and their dependents.
The department added that the evacuees would be placed under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and “will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing.”
“The Department’s primary responsibility at this time is the safety of our force, our families, and our base communities,” added Farah.
It was not immediately clear how long the evacuees would remain at the base and the CDC did not immediately respond to a query from AFP.
The maximum incubation period of the virus — the gap between infection and the appearance of symptoms — is thought to be two weeks, though in some cases symptoms have emerged within a matter of days.
It is also not fully clear whether transmission can occur if a patient is not yet showing symptoms.