What to Know
- Kalitta Air Flight 373: Departed Wuhan, China at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday (China time) -- estimated landing time 3:45 a.m. Wednesday (California time)
- Kalitta Air Flight 375: Departed Wuhan China at 8:51 a.m. Wednesday (China time) -- estimated landing time 4:17 a.m. (California time)
- An MCAS Miramar Cpatin confirmed one of the planes will land at the base between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. Wednesday following a stop to refuel at Travis Air Force Base.
One of two planes that departed Wuhan, China, Tuesday evening en route to the United States landed at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Wednesday morning.
The two flights, Kalitta Air flights 373 and 375, were contracted by the U.S. government to bring U.S. citizens stuck in China amid the coronavirus outbreak back to the United States, MCAS Miramar Captain Matt Gregory said.
Both planes arrived at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield before 5 a.m. One with 167 passengers refueled and took off en route to MCAS Miramar, landing just before 9:30 a.m.
Passengers disembarked from the plane more than a half-hour after touch down. They are subject to a 14-day quarantine at the base managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Medical personnel has been screening the passengers every step of the way,” said Dr. Christopher Braden, lead for the Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team at MCAS Miramar.
Braden explained that the passengers were screened before taking off, during the flight and when they arrived on base.
“Based on our experience with other coronaviruses we don’t believe these individuals pose a risk to the community because we are doing all that we can to take the measures to minimize any potential exposures,” Braden said.
Four of the plane's passengers were taken to local hospitals following health screenings upon arrival, said CDC spokesperson Thomas Skinner. Skinner said the four passengers had either a cough or fever that warranted further evaluation.
Two were taken to UC San Diego Health and an adult and a child were taken to Rady Children's Hospital, according to Skinner.
"These medical transports are a part of CDC's plan to ensure that anyone showing signs of illness consistent with nCOV during their quarantine period will be transported to a nearby medical facility for isolation, evaluation, and care as needed. CDC will provide additional updates as warranted," Skinner said.
The other 163 are being screened twice a day and are fed three times per day, Skinner said. Quarantined individuals are not confined to a room, and are free to leave the facility but not the quarantine area itself, which is fenced and guarded by U.S. Marshals. There is a playground with basketball hoops within the quarantine area, and books and board games are also being offered, Skinner said.
The second plane would remain at Travis Air Force Base, according to a U.S. official. The passengers would deboard and remain in lodging at the base, also in quarantine for 14 days.
There are about 350 combined passengers on the two planes, including children. Two more flights with about 500 more passengers are expected to leave Wuhan by Thursday.
Skinner said another plane could be coming to MCAS Miramar later in the week. The base made room for a little more than 300 people, meaning the quarantine area is a little more than half full, Skinner said.
The Pentagon chose four U.S. military bases to accommodate nearly 1,000 American passengers evacuating China. MCAS Miramar in San Diego and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield were among them. The other two selected are the 168th Regiment Regional Training Institute in Fort Carson, Colorado and Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas.
"In support of Health and Human Services, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar will be temporarily housing American citizens in the process of returning from China," MCAS Miramar said in a press release Saturday.
San Diego mother Yanjun Wei and her 1 and 3-year-old children boarded the plane that landed in Travis Air Force Base. Wei and her children traveled to China to celebrate the Lunar New Year with relatives she hadn't seen in a decade. She was struggling to return to the U.S. but hopes to be reunited with her husband soon.
Nearly 200 Americans are already being quarantined at March Air Reserve Base after being evacuated from Wuhan.
None of the Americans being housed in Riverside have shown signs of illness, but it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to get sick.
“This is the first time in more than 50 years that the CDC has issued a quarantined order like this,” Dr. Braden said.
The viral outbreak began in China, where the death toll rose to 259 on Saturday. More than 11,900 people have been infected with the coronavirus globally, the vast majority of them on the Chinese mainland.
An order signed last Friday by President Donald Trump temporarily bars entry to foreign nationals who have traveled to China within the last 14 days, with the exception of immediate family of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.