- Arrival of first batch of 195 US citizens from Wuhan stoked fears they would spread disease, despite none of them testing positive for Covid-19
- Personnel from base where evacuees were housed were denied housing, and their children were treated badly at school
Nearly 200 people evacuated from China because of the coronavirus outbreak were released from quarantine in California on Tuesday, with officials urging Americans not to shun them, or workers who helped them, after both groups faced discrimination.
The 195 US citizens, mostly US State Department employees and their families, underwent the United States’ first mandatory quarantine since 1963 after they were evacuated from the coronavirus-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan.
They were flown by government-chartered cargo plane on January 29 to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County about 97km (60 miles) east of Los Angeles, where they were in quarantine for 14 days – the outer limit of the virus’ possible incubation period.
None tested positive for coronavirus, but their arrival stoked unfounded fears in the local community that they or base personnel would spread the disease, Riverside County public health officer Cameron Kaiser told a press conference.
“They don’t need additional tests, they don’t need to be shunned, they don’t have novel coronavirus,” Kaiser told reporters after his department published a photo of the former patients throwing away their masks in a quarantine graduation ceremony.