US evacuees ‘relieved’ about quarantine on military base

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA (AP) — Nearly 200 Americans evacuated from China because of the new virus were “very relieved’ to be quarantined at a military base in Southern California for two weeks, one of them said.

“All of us really want to stay here and make sure we’re all medically clear and the public safe,” said theme park designer Matthew L McCoy who lives in China.

McCoy was among the 195 Americans who returned on a charter flight earlier this week from Wuhan, the Chinese city at the centre of the outbreak. Initially, health officials asked them to stay at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside for up to three days of monitoring and testing. The government ordered them into quarantine for two weeks.

Health officials believe it can take up to two weeks for someone who is infected to get sick. So far there has been no sign of illness. It was the first federal order since 1963, when a woman was quarantined after she returned from a trip to Sweden during a smallpox outbreak, and she could not prove that she had been vaccinated.

“We understand this action may seem drastic. We would rather be remembered for overreacting than underreacting,” said Dr Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The main entrance to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California. PHOTO: AP