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Flights carrying Americans from Wuhan arrive in US

By AI HEPING in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-02-07 03:50
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Two flights carrying about 350 Americans who were evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak — arrived at Travis Air Force Base in California early Wednesday.

The flights, part of a US State Department-chartered evacuation, landed at the base in Fairfield, the first at about 3 am.

The evacuees were expected to remain at Travis in Fairfield, and at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego under a 14-day quarantine, said officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The only other people under federal quarantine were fewer than 200 who had been in Wuhan and were flown to California last week.

The State Department said that it would carry out one or two more evacuation flights from Wuhan on Thursday and had no additional flights planned after that time.

The Trump administration ordered that as of Sunday afternoon, any American citizen who in the last two weeks had visited Hubei province, whose capital city is Wuhan, was subject to a quarantine of up to 14 days upon arriving in the US.

Meanwhile, the 12th confirmed case of the coronavirus in the US was reported by the Wisconsin Department of Health Service. It is the first confirmed case in Wisconsin.

The patient, an adult who had recently returned from China, was said to be doing well and was being kept isolated at home. After returning to the United States, the patient sought treatment in the emergency department of a hospital in Madison but wasn't admitted.

The Wisconsin case is the first new confirmation reported since Sunday, when three new cases were announced in California.

Six cases have been confirmed in California, one in Massachusetts, one in Washington state, one in Arizona, two in Illinois and one in Wisconsin. There are two instances of person-to-person transmission, one in Illinois and one in California.

The CDC has listed 293 people under investigation for the coronavirus in 36 states as of Feb 5. Among them, 206 were negative and 76 are pending.

On Wall Street, stocks rallied Wednesday for the second day in a row, erasing the losses sparked by reaction to the coronavirus outbreak. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite index are at record highs.

Analysts said that concerns about the virus have faded in the absence of immediate signs that the disruption to businesses in China could affect other nations.

"The story in the market is the repricing of the virus fear,'' Peter Schaffrik, a global macro strategist at RBC Capital Markets, told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. "What people are currently looking at is the rate of spread of the outbreak: The number of cases is still going up, but the growth rate is slowing down.''

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that several US lawmakers confronted Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and other top officials Wednesday about the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus, expressing anger about what they called the federal government's poor communication with states.

In a closed-door briefing with senators, the two Democratic senators from Hawaii were particularly irate, the newspaper said. They complained that their state health officials had not been notified in advance that their airport would be one of 11 to receive and quarantine US citizens arriving from China's Hubei province.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Wednesday that it will provide up to $100 million in the worldwide effort to combat the coronavirus.

The Gates Foundation said its donation will be used to assist the World Health Organization, Chinese front-line responders and others at the global and national levels as they struggle to contain coronavirus.

The new funding includes $5 million to China that the foundation committed to the outbreak in late January.

The foundation also will immediately commit up to $20 million to accelerate the detection, isolation and treatment of people diagnosed with the virus with the goal of interrupting transmission and containing the disease.

In a statement posted on its website, the nonprofit group said the money will go toward strengthening detection, isolation and treatment efforts; protecting at-risk populations; and developing vaccines, treatments and diagnostics.

"Multilateral organizations, national governments, the private sector and philanthropies must work together to slow the pace of the outbreak, help countries protect their most vulnerable citizens and accelerate the development of the tools to bring this epidemic under control," said Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. "Our hope is that these resources will help catalyze a rapid and effective international response. This response should be guided by science, not fear, and it should build on the steps that the World Health Organization has taken to date."

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that 10 people on board the cruise ship Diamond Princess off the Japanese port of Yokohama had tested positive for the virus, prompting authorities to instruct about 3,700 passengers, including 400 Americans, to remain inside their cabins, as officials attempt to prevent further infection.

The ship had been prevented from sailing on Monday after an 80-year-old passenger who had traveled on the ship late last month was found to have the virus after he arrived home in Hong Kong.

Separately, health checks began on 1,800 passengers and crew on a second cruise ship docked in Hong Kong, after 30 staff members reported symptoms including fever, according to Reuters.

Linda Deng contributed to this story.

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