A chartered jet arranged by the U.S. government departed from Wuhan, China—where the coronavirus first broke out—on Jan. 28, carrying U.S. citizens and staff from the American consulate.
As China’s coronavirus outbreak continues to escalate, the State Department ordered U.S. consulate employees in China to head to the United States.
Before private citizens and U.S. staff from the consulate departed from Wuhan, they were screened for symptoms and are expected to have their health monitored during the flight, Mercury News reported.
Officials say the diplomats will go through three health checks when they arrive in Riverside County, California, to determine if any of them are infected with the virus.
The flight is expected to arrive early on Jan. 29.
Five people in the United States have been diagnosed with the coronavirus at the time of reporting.
In an interview with NTD on Jan. 27, Laurie Garrett, a journalist and health analyst who has covered over 30 epidemics, said that there was one problem with detecting the coronavirus—infected patients either show mild symptoms or no symptoms at all.
“If people are capable of transmitting to others before they have a fever, then a lot of these measures are kind of false assurance,” Garrett said. “They’ll miss huge numbers of people.”
“We’re deluding ourselves into believing that we’re stopping the epidemic by taking people’s temperatures,” she said.
Garrett also said that she is very concerned if this spreads into secondary and tertiary transmission outside of mainland China.
This may have already happened. On Tuesday, Taiwan reported its first case of domestic coronavirus transmission.
The new patient, a man in his 50s, was infected by his wife after she returned from working in China before she was subsequently diagnosed.
“If you start to see two, three, four generations of transmission in other countries,” Garrett said, “then I think we could be in the kind of territory we haven’t seen in my lifetime.”
“This could really be a phenomenally dangerous epidemic,” she said.
Penny Zhou contributed to this report.