Two hundred Americans to face quarantine in California

Some 200 US citizens are due to be quarantined in California after arriving from Wuhan, China amid the coronavirus oubreak.

The passengers, mostly diplomats, were evacuated via a chartered flight that landed on US soil on Wednesday.

They will be quarantined for at least 72 hours, but could be kept isolated for up to two weeks if they have any symptoms, officials said.

The flight landed at a US air base near Riverside, California.

Earlier, the flight stopped in Anchorage, Alaska, to refuel while the 201 were given an initial screen for symptoms. None exhibited any signs of the coronavirus, according to the state’s chief medical officer. Five cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in the US as of Tuesday.

The Department of State, which chartered the flight, said places aboard were offered to government workers, with unfilled seats sold to US citizens on a “reimbursable basis”, though it was unclear if the agency was offering to pay back the reported $1,000 per ticket cost.

It was originally scheduled to land at the civilian Ontario International Airport, some 30 miles (48km) from Los Angeles, but was diverted to the March Air Reserve military base.

The Ontario airport had prepared for the arrival of the chartered flight on Tuesday by setting up showers, bathrooms and beds in a hangar. The decision to move the flight to the air base came that evening.

The switch was made for logistical reasons, Curt Hagman, a San Bernardino county official said.

Mr Hagman had earlier said passengers could be quarantined for up to two weeks.

The US Department of Defence said they will work with Health and Human Services officials to care for the evacuees. Any passengers who fall ill will be transported to a civilian hospital.

The CDC will be carrying out screenings at 20 commercial airports.

As the severity of the outbreak deepens, the White House is considering temporarily banning flights from China, US media report.

The UK, Australia, Japan and EU nations have also been repatriating citizens.