On Wednesday the Pentagon stated that it is ready to provide housing and support for the nearly 200 citizens and diplomats of the United States evacuated from Wuhan, China (which is the focal point of the deadly coronavirus) to the United States.
Health and Human Services is involved
CNBC reported that a spokesperson of the U.S. Embassy told them that the State Department ordered personnel from the U.S. Consulate General situated in Wuhan to fly for the United States on a chartered flight on Wednesday morning (local time). The flight from Wuhan Tianhe International Airport to Ontario, California, halted primarily in Anchorage, Alaska, for medical screenings and refueling.
The government-chartered flight arrived at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, California on Wednesday. Soon after the plane landed personnel in biological hazard suits helped passengers to get into buses and emergency vehicles on the tarmac.
“Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for all care of the evacuees, and DoD personnel will not be directly in contact with the evacuees and evacuees will not have access to any base location other than their assigned housing,” Alyssa Farah, Pentagon press secretary wrote in a statement.
“Should routine monitoring of the evacuees identify ill individuals, HHS has procedures in place to transport them to a local civilian hospital. DoD will work closely with our interagency partners and continue to monitor the situation. The Department’s primary responsibility at this time is the safety of our force, our families, and our base communities,” she added.
It’s spreading Fast!
The virus which was first detected less than a month ago has already killed at least 170 people in China and infected roughly 7,711 people all around the world.
While the majority of registered coronavirus cases belong to mainland China, the virus has also been spotted in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Singapore, Nepal, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Macao, Cambodia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, France, Australia, Germany, Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
“The military has actually been very effective at the identification of new viruses because we have people everywhere and we have our military laboratories everywhere,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, told CNBC.
“While typically the CDC is the lead on these things, the military has reference laboratories pretty much on every continent and specifically, we have labs in all of Southeast Asia, so we act as a force multiplier in providing additional surveillance to the CDC’s efforts,” he added.
CNBC reported that an official from the Department of Defense said that the Pentagon’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency, or DTRA, worked alongside Thai counterparts to diagnose the first coronavirus in that country on January 13.
“These investments enhance regional stability and decrease risk to U.S. interests by building our partner’s capacity to detect and report disease outbreaks of especially dangerous pathogens, and enhance related biosecurity and biosafety capabilities,” the official said.
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