A jetliner carrying 167 evacuees from the Wuhan region of China, where the deadly coronavirus was first detected, arrived Wednesday at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, where the passengers began a government-mandated two-week quarantine, but four of them were hospitalized for further observation.
Medical personnel with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention met the arriving flight at the northern San Diego military base after it touched down shortly before 9:30 a.m., officials said.
By early evening, CDC officials reported that its medical staff had completed health screenings on all the evacuees and determined that four of them had a fever or cough that warranted hospitalization so they could undergo further evaluation. Two adults were taken to UC San Diego Health, and one adult and a child went to Rady Children’s Hospital, according to the federal agency.
The flight sent to San Diego was one of two carrying a total of roughly 350 American evacuees from Wuhan. Both flights arrived Wednesday morning at Travis Air Force Base in Northern California. One remained there while the other continued on to MCAS Miramar after refueling.
The passengers on both flights will undergo a 14-day quarantine, as ordered by the CDC.
Upon arrival, and continuing throughout the quarantine period, CDC medical personnel will screen each passenger individually, including temperature checks and observing respiratory behavior.
“We continue to believe the immediate risk of coronavirus exposure to the general public is low, however, CDC is undertaking these measures to help keep that risk low,” the agency said in a statement released Wednesday morning.
The evacuees will reside at the MCAS Miramar Consolidated Bachelor’s Quarters or Miramar Inn, said Capt. Matthew Gregory, director of communications for the air base.
During their stay there, the evacuees will be provided food, water and other items by the Department of Health and Human Services. Department of Defense personnel will not have direct contact with any of those returning from China, Gregory said.
Nearly 200 Americans arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside on Jan. 29 and are quarantined there after being evacuated from Wuhan.
A child among the group was taken to Riverside University Medical Center on Monday night after developing a fever, but a county health department statement issued on Tuesday afternoon stressed that the transfer was “out of an abundance of caution” and not because there was any positive indication of coronavirus, which has to be verified through serology tests.
Laboratory samples were sent to the CDC, and the results came back negative for the virus, and the child was returned to the military base.
The coronavirus epidemic has claimed at least 490 lives, with more than 24,000 infections documented in China. The respiratory illness is treatable, and many patients are recovering, according to reports.
There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, with six of those in California, including one case each in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Temporary quarantine and processing sites have been established at major airports, including LAX.
The virus was first identified by the Chinese government on Dec. 31, when authorities indicated an unknown pneumonia variant was infecting residents of Hubei province.