The 195 United States citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the new coronavirus outbreak, will be placed under quarantine. This is the first time since the 1960s that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has exercised its legal right to place people into quarantine.
The evacuated people will be quarantined at a military base in California for 14 days. Right now, 14 days is the longest estimate for how long it takes to develop symptoms after being exposed to the new coronavirus. The new coronavirus has infected more than 9,500 people worldwide in nearly two dozen countries, and it has killed 213 people in China.
The CDC initially said that they would stay at the military base under observation for three days. The change comes because of the increasing number of cases in China, as well as new reports that people can pass the virus to others before they start showing symptoms, said Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC during a press call.
In addition, while the coronavirus has spread throughout China, the highest number of cases continues to be in Wuhan. “These returning travelers are coming directly from the epicenter,” she said. The US has plans to evacuate more people from Wuhan, and the CDC is still working to determine how it will monitor them once they arrive.
Although the CDC has a test that can check if someone who is already sick has the coronavirus, the test doesn’t work in people who don’t yet have symptoms. “The negative result does not help us confirm people are safe from this disease,” Messonnier said.
There have been six people in the US who have had confirmed cases of the new coronavirus. Five of them got it while they were traveling in China; the sixth got it from his wife, who caught it while traveling and was in close contact with him before being put in isolation. The US State Department has issued a level 4 travel advisory, the most severe warning it gives; this advisory applies only to areas with a “greater likelihood of life-threatening risks.” Americans shouldn’t travel to China because of the coronavirus risk, the State Department said last night.