“People are Concerned” 210 Evacuees from Wuhan, Land in the U.S.
In an effort to evacuate U.S. diplomats and citizens from Wuhan, the center of the deadly coronavirus, the U.S. government arranged a plane carrying 210 American citizens to land in Ontario, California. However, the CDC gave a last-minute advisory to divert the flight to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside.
Initially, the Boeing 747 was scheduled to leave before dawn in Wuhan. The plane which bears red and gold stripes and has no passenger window was supposed to make a refueling stop in Alaska at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport on Tuesday night. The plane was expected to arrive on Wednesday in Ontario, California.
However, the chairman of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors and commissioner at the airport, Curt Hagman announced on Youtube that the CDC gave a last-minute advisory of their decision to divert the flight. However, Hagman did not provide any further explanation as to why the flight has been diverted.
Currently, Ontario Airport plays an important role in emergency repatriation, as it was designated a decade ago by the U.S. government as the facility for emergency situations. “Ontario International is one of the repatriation airports for the west coast and we are always prepared to receive our citizens abroad in times of emergencies,” Hagman said in his video. “We were prepared but the state department decided to switch the flight to March Air Force Base for logistics that they have.”
Hagman also added that people in Ontario had expressed their concerns. “People are concerned—they wanted to make sure the government is protecting them,” Hagman said.
The repatriation process was led by the Department of State, alongside the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC). These institutions are responsible for evaluating every traveler on the flight and to ensure that any passenger who shows flu-like symptoms should be given immediate medical attention.
As to raise even further tension, WHO confirmed that they have made an error on the initial assessment of the new coronavirus. As death tolls hit 132 victims, the Chinese government has cut-off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities within the Hubei province to stop the virus from spreading. Currently, 6,000 patients have been confirmed to be infected by the deadly virus.
Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough after 2 to 7 days, breathing difficulties, gastrointestinal issues, diarrhea, and general body aches. The virus can be transmitted through cough or sneeze, or from touching contaminated objects from the infected patient.
President Donald Trump ensures the public that the administration is doing everything it can to prevent an outbreak. However, he also strongly advises Americans to stay cautious. “Very few cases reported in the USA, but strongly on watch,” Trump posted. “We have offered China and President Xi any help that is necessary. Our experts are extraordinary!”
Even U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar warned Americans to stay cautious and assures that the country is prepared to respond to the virus. “We are constantly preparing for the possibility that the situation could worsen,” Azar said in a press briefing. Azar added “Americans should not worry about their own safety,” Part of the risk we face is we don’t know everything we need to know about this virus … That does not prevent us from preparing and responding.”