2020-01-29
CNN

(CNN)A flight with about 210 Americans aboard will land at a military base in Southern California on Wednesday after leaving the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in China. The fast-moving coronavirus has killed 130 people and infected 6,000 others in China -- most of them in the hardest-hit city of Wuhan. Five cases of the disease have been confirmed in the United States. The flight chartered by the State Department left Wuhan, and will stop to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska. From there, it will head to the March Air Reserve Base near Riverside, California, where it'll arrive early Wednesday. The flight was originally planned to land at the civilian Ontario International Airport -- about 35 miles from Los Angeles. It's not immediately clear why the itinerary was changed from the civilian airport to a military base. Curt Hagman, a San Bernardino County commissioner who is on the board of the Ontario airport, said they were informed Tuesday night that the plane will not land there. Passengers will be screened at various stages The passengers will go through a series of screenings during the trip and after they land, officials said. When they arrive in Anchorage, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will screen them to determine whether they are healthy enough to continue on to California. Passengers who have a cough, fever or shortness of breath in Anchorage will be further assessed by medical experts, according to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. "These individuals will be screened before they take off; monitored during the duration of the flight by medical personnel on board; screened again on landing to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska; monitored on the last leg of the flight by medical personnel on board; evaluated upon arrival at March Air Reserve Base ... and then monitored for symptoms post-arrival," the CDC said. Before the plane's arrival itinerary was changed to a military airport, an official had told CNN the passengers may be forced to stay in isolation between three days and two weeks. At the time, Hagman said authorities were setting up beds, phone chargers and televisions in an isolated, dormant hangar at Ontario International Airport. It's unclear whether the same procedure will be followed at the military base, which is in a different county. Priority was given to US citizens at risk The passengers include US diplomats and their families. The State Department had said American citizens could also board on a reimbursable basis if space was available. While there are about 1,000 Americans living in Wuhan, priority was given to US citizens who are "most at risk for contracting coronavirus" if they stay in the city, the State Department said. It said it was unable to accommodate everyone due to space limitations, but it's working to identify alternative routes for US citizens to depart Wuhan by land. The State Department issued a Level 4 advisory for Wuhan, meaning Americans should not travel to the city while the virus has an impact, Vice President Mike Pence said. It also ordered personnel working at the US Consulate in Wuhan to depart for the United States. Other countries including South Korea and Japan are also sending charters to evacuate citizens from the epicenter of the outbreak. The European Commission said it was sending two aircraft to evacuate European Union citizens out of Wuhan, according to a statement Tuesday. CNN's Andy Rose and Debra Goldschmidt contributed to this report.

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