CDC officials give update on coronavirus

Coronavirus

A rendering of coronavirus via the CDC.

FAIRFIELD, Calif. (AP) — Two jets carrying about 350 Americans fleeing the virus zone in China landed Wednesday morning at an Air Force base in Northern California. Some will be quarantined at a hotel on the base for 14 days while others will be quarantined at a Southern California military base, officials said.

Guests and staff at the hotel on Travis Air Force Base were moved out ahead of the planes’ arrival, said Technical Sgt. Traci Keller. The Americans were evacuated from the Chinese city of Wuhan, which is at the center of the new virus outbreak. The base is near the city of Fairfield, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco,

Other planes carrying Americans from Wuhan will arrive Thursday at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas and Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska, where they will be quarantined, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said.

The U.S. Northern Command tweeted that the planes that arrived in California carried about 350 people. Keller had no information about their health, but CDC officials were expected later Wednesday to provide more information about the evacuees.

One of the planes was scheduled to leave Travis Air Force Base later Wednesday to take Americans to the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego, where those people will also quarantined for 14 days, the U.S. Northern Command said.

Also Wednesday, health authorities in the U.S. started shipping diagnostic test kits to labs in the U.S. and abroad. By the start of next week, testing for the virus will be done closer to patients, rather than at the CDC’s lab in Atlanta, and states will begin to communicate test results to the public. The CDC plans to update the U.S. case counts three times each week on its website.

“Now is the time to act so we can slow the introduction and impact of this virus in the U.S.,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “This is the beginning of what could be a long response.”

The Americans were evacuated a week after another jet with 195 American evacuees from Wuhan arrived at March Air Reserve base in Southern California. They remain under a 14-day quarantine at the base.

The new virus is a member of the coronavirus family that’s a close cousin to the SARS and MERS viruses that have caused outbreaks in the past.

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