A plane chartered by the U.S. government to evacuate 201 Americans from the Chinese city at the center of the coronavirus outbreak was on its way to Southern California Wednesday morning.
It was carrying diplomats from the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan and other U.S. citizens. All the evacuees cleared initial health checks in China and then during a refueling stop in Alaska.
By Wednesday morning the flu-like virus had killed at least 132 people, all of them in China. Close to 6,000 others have been infected in more than a dozen countries, including five confirmed cases in the United States. More than 100 people in the U.S. were being tested for the disease across 26 states on Tuesday.
Before the flight left China there were more than 1,000 Americans stuck in Wuhan. Other countries have also begun evacuating citizens from China on chartered flights, and some major airlines were halting flights to mainland China. The Trump administration was considering a complete travel ban on China as it evaluates the best ways to stop the virus spreading.
Coronavirus can be transmitted by people showing no symptoms, and a top British infectious disease specialist said Monday that the actual number of cases around the world could be close to 100,000.