Precautionary Quarantine Underway for U.S. Evacuees as Chinese Military Mobilizes.
In response to concern over the spread of the coronavirus, a U.S. based Boeing 747-400 owned by contract air freight service Kalitta Airlines of Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan, has evacuated “nearly 200” passengers from Wuhan, China to the United States via Alaska. The aircraft landed on Jan. 29 at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. The flight was carrying both civilians and employees of the U.S. State Department stationed in China. Photos have surfaced across international media of ground crew wearing biological isolation suits while servicing the aircraft on the ground at March Air Reserve Base in California.
— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) January 29, 2020
A CNBC report by William Feuer said that, “The government-chartered flight departed from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport and touched down in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel before continuing on to California. All passengers were screened twice in Alaska, and CDC health officials approved them all to continue, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services said. All passengers were screened twice before departure in China, too, the Alaska DHSS said, and monitored during the flight.”
The passengers evacuated from Wuhan through Alaska to March Air Reserve Base on the Kalitta Airlines flight are being screened again in California and may remain in quarantine pending the outcome of more medical tests.
— CivMilAir ✈ (@CivMilAir) January 30, 2020
The evacuation and subsequent quarantine is part of a number of precautionary measures being taken around the globe as concern over the spread of coronavirus continues to grow. The U.S. Center for Disease Control (C.D.C.) is currently monitoring 110 possible coronavirus cases in 26 states in the U.S.
According to reports published by the Chinese and in the U.S., concern that the virus may remain undetectable after initially contracted and before symptoms appear may mean a large number of cases have still gone undiagnosed.
The private aviation intelligence and security outlet OpsGroup issued a statement about the coronavirus outbreak on Tuesday, saying:
“A growing list of airlines including British Airways, Finnair, and Lufthansa, have suspended all flights to and from China, foreign governments including the US and the UK have issued travel warnings, and China itself has banned its citizens from booking overseas flights. Several foreign governments are now planning evacuations of their citizens from Wuhan – the city at the epicenter of the outbreak – with Australia planning to take the extraordinary step of quarantining its evacuees on Christmas Island, over 1000 miles away from the mainland.”
The Chinese government has mobilized military assets to cordon off the city of Wuhan in central China and supervise the mass shipment of medical relief supplies to the region.
A report published by the Chinese government on the official ChinaMil.com.cn website said that, “A train loaded with the first batch of emergency medical supplies allocated by the Chinese military from Shenyang of Liaoning Province and Heze of Shandong Province arrived at the Hankou railway station in Wuhan, Hubei Province on Sunday morning [January 26, 2020]. These emergency medical supplies included 10000 sets of class-C protective clothing and 3760 bottles of ethyl alcohol. With the coordination of the PLA’s forward commanding and coordinating group, the handover of the medical supplies was successfully conducted between the military and civil sides and all the supplies have been sent to the frontline hospitals.”
Inaccurate or speculative reports about the cause and spread of the coronavirus have appeared in mainstream media reports, but are also being corrected by news organizations such as the BBC and The Independent UK. One inaccurate rumor that was proliferated on social media incorrectly suggested that the virus had spread from a secret Chinese biological weapons research program at the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory. These reports are false according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization in addition to official Chinese Government sources.
While the actual origin of the virus is still unknown, early reports suggest the virus originated at a seafood and animal market in Wuhan, China, where the majority of the cases have been reported.