HealthDay News — More Americans have been evacuated from the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China, as U.S. health officials reported a 12th domestic case of coronavirus late Wednesday in Wisconsin. The number of deaths in China has surpassed 600, and the infection count has risen above 31,000.
Two chartered planes carrying about 300 Americans have left Wuhan, the U.S. State Department said Thursday night. Both flights will stop at Travis Air Force base in northern California, the The New York Times reported. Anyone showing symptoms of illness will be quarantined there, while the planes continue on to military bases in San Antonio, Texas, and Omaha, Nebraska. These are the fourth and fifth flights to evacuate Americans from China in the past week. The first group of evacuees, who were flown out of Wuhan, were told on Wednesday that they have all tested negative for coronavirus, health officials said. But they were to remain in quarantine for about another week, The Times reported. On the evacuation flights that left China Wednesday, five people — three adults and two children — showed signs of cough or fever and were taken to hospitals for evaluation, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“CDC staff are there meeting the planes and assessing the health of each passenger,” Nancy Messonnier, M.D., director of the CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a Wednesday media briefing. “The passengers will be screened, monitored and evaluated by medical and public health personnel, including before takeoff and during the flight.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Tuesday that it had fast-tracked a test for the virus in an effort to help speed screening efforts. “Today, the test kits will start shipping to over 100 U.S. public health labs,” Messonnier said during the media briefing. “Initially, 200 test kits will be distributed to U.S. domestic laboratories, and another 200 will be distributed to selected international laboratories. Each test kit can perform 700 to 800 patient samples.” As of Wednesday, 206 Americans under investigation have tested negative, she said, with testing pending on 76 people.