Coronavirus outbreak: Quarantine lifted for nearly 200 evacuees at Riverside military base

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- Nearly 200 evacuees ended a two-week quarantine at a Riverside military base where they have been living since flying out of China in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Quarantine orders were lifted after 9:30 a.m. for the 195 people held at March Air Reserve Base.

None tested positive for the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives overseas. The large group, many who work for the U.S. Department of State, also underwent a final examination before they were cleared to leave.

Those being held were isolated from base personnel - who were not at an increased risk of infection - and not allowed to leave a fenced area, officials say.

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Days after arriving, an evacuee tried to leave the base and was ordered to stay for the duration of the incubation period or until otherwise cleared. Officials said the person, who was not identified, did not try to sneak away but merely tried to leave before the 72-hour monitoring period was over. The person later stayed for the 14-day incubation period.

Following their release, evacuees will board buses traveling to Los Angeles International Airport or Ontario International Airport. A couple dozen will stay on the base until Wednesday, when they can secure travel arrangements.

The first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was found among hundreds of people who were evacuated from China to military bases around the United States.

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The case was diagnosed among evacuees at the Miramar Marine base in San Diego. A second person is being evaluated for possibly having the virus.

"Both patients are doing well and have minimal symptoms," according to the UC San Diego Health system.

The Miramar group was initially thought to be free of coronavirus. Four individuals had been isolated in a hospital after showing symptoms, but on Sunday federal health officials said they had tested negative and they were sent back to the base.

On Monday morning, however, officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention informed county health officials that "further testing revealed that one of the four patients tested positive" for novel coronavirus and the person was returned to hospital isolation, UC San Diego Health said.

This is the seventh confirmed case of novel coronavirus in California and the 13th in the United States.

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The person confirmed to have the illness arrived at Miramar Feb. 5 from Wuhan. That locked-down city of 11 million is the epicenter of the highly contagious disease, which has killed more than 1,000 people overseas.

Recent chartered flights have sent hundreds of people back to the U.S. They are being held in quarantine at military bases in California, Texas and Nebraska.

Five evacuees taken to Travis Air Force Base, located between San Francisco and Sacramento, were hospitalized after showing symptoms of the virus but none of those possible cases has been confirmed, authorities said.

No symptoms were reported among evacuees at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio or a Nebraska national Guard training base in Omaha.

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A couple from Santa Clarita is among the thousands of quarantined people on board a cruise ship off the coast of Japan, after over 100 cases of the coronavirus were confirmed among passengers.

Worldwide, there are believed to be at least 43,000 cases of coronavirus infection. In China, where the outbreak is centered around Wuhan, officials announced the death toll had recently passed 1,000.

The outbreak has resulted in the evacuations of hundred of U.S. citizens on State Department-chartered flights from China to U.S. military bases, where they have been subject to extensive screening and 14-day quarantines.

Cruise ships have also been quarantined and isolated, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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