Hundreds of Americans evacuating from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China have begun arriving Friday in the United States.
The fast-moving coronavirus emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan two months ago. Since then, it’s killed 638 people, mostly in China, and trapped residents at home, paralyzing the world’s second biggest economy.
Outside mainland China, it’s raced across continents, infecting over 31,000 in more than 25 countries and territories. In the US, there are at least 12 confirmed cases.
This week saw the number of cases reported in the outbreak more than double worldwide.
At the end of last week, there had been 14,549 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 305 deaths worldwide. The US had eight cases.
As the numbers skyrocket, the US has worked to get Americans out of China.
About 300 people are due to arrive Friday in the US from Wuhan aboard what could be the final two flights chartered by the State Department. The final destination of the two evacuation flights will be the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego and the Eppley Airfield in Omaha, Nebraska.
The flight bound for Omaha landed early Friday morning at Travis Air Force Base — between San Francisco and Sacramento, California — a base official told CNN. It’s expected to head to the Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, before reaching its final destination.
The State Department does not anticipate chartering any planes after this week, an official said.
In Canada, a flight carrying 176 passengers landed late Thursday at Vancouver International Airport, an airport official said.
The health of passengers headed to the United States will be monitored and checked repeatedly during their flights. After disembarking, they will be screened and placed under a 14-day federally mandated quarantine, according to the US Northern Command, a part of the Department of Defense.
Those who show symptoms upon arrival or during the quarantine period will be taken to area hospitals for isolation and treatment.
Evacuations of Americans from Wuhan started last month, with one flight carrying nearly 200 Americans landing at the March Air Reserve Base in Southern California. Those passengers were quarantined.
On Wednesday, two more flights out of Wuhan arrived in California, carrying a total of 350 passengers. They were taken to Travis Air Force Base and the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. They were also quarantined.
The federal quarantine order applies to Americans arriving on regular passenger flights, as well.
US citizens returning from China on commercial flights are being rerouted to one of 11 airports that can handle extra health screenings. Those passengers may be subject to quarantine, according to new federal rules that went into effect Sunday.
The 11 designated commercial airports are in: New York (John F. Kennedy), Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago (O’Hare), Atlanta, Honolulu, Dallas, Detroit, Newark and Washington (Dulles).
The Pentagon announced that 11 additional military locations have been approved to accept people for quarantine if public health authorities believe there are coronavirus concerns. The additional military housing sites are located near the 11 airports accepting flights.
Passengers are not just trapped at home and in military bases.
More than 7,300 people are being quarantined on two cruise ships docked in Hong Kong and Japan over concerns they were inadvertently exposed to the coronavirus by infected passengers.
At least 61 people from all over the world have tested positive for coronavirus on the cruise ship docked in Japan, including 11 Americans.