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article imageU.S. prepares to evacuate some U.S. citizens from Wuhan

By Karen Graham     Jan 27, 2020 in Health
Beijing - The U.S. Consulate in the epidemic-stricken Chinese city of Wuhan will evacuate its personnel and some private citizens aboard a charter flight Tuesday.
As the U.S. is racing to get a planeload of consulate staff and a few private citizens they deem to be "at greater risk for coronavirus," the latest update reports that 81 people in China have died from the 2019-nCOV, and over 2,700 others have been infected in China and more than a dozen countries.
The mayor of Wuhan, Zhou Xianwang, told CCTV that 5 million residents had left Wuhan before it went into lockdown. This includes people who traveled for the lunar new year festival, as well as those who fled to escape the virus and impending shutdown, reports The Guardian.
Professor Neil Ferguson, a public health expert at London's Imperial College, has said there could be 100,000 people already infected with the deadly new strain of coronavirus focused in central China's Hubei province, reports CBS News.
"The upper bound of the cumulative number of infected people as of yesterday is up to 100,000," Ferguson's office told CBS News on Monday.
"A lot more information will become available in the next few days and weeks, and case numbers will continue to increase rapidly," Ferguson told CBS News, adding that the fast-multiplying figures "do not necessarily represent a huge growth rate of the epidemic; it is much more likely down to the health authorities catching up" with efforts to accurately diagnosis a brand new illness.
Medical facilities in the Chinese city of Wuhan are swamped with patients waiting for hours to see d...
Medical facilities in the Chinese city of Wuhan are swamped with patients waiting for hours to see doctors
Hector RETAMAL, AFP
The evacuation and how it will be handled
So the big question for many people is just how the evacuees will be handled? According to ABC News on Monday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing sent out a notice on Sunday saying there would be limited capacity to transport U.S. citizens on the flight that will proceed directly to San Francisco.
The notice also said that in the event there are not enough seats, priority will be given to individuals “at greater risk from coronavirus.”
There are reportedly about 1,000 Americans stuck in Wuhan - unable to leave the city, Justin Steece told CBS News today. "I just wish I could get my family off. We need to go to America." Steece's wife, Ling, does not have an American visa and he can't leave Wuhan to finish her paperwork to get a visa.
Even as the Chinese government is racing to contain the 2019-nCOV, Steece says it doesn't make people feel any better. "What you see, what the Chinese government is saying; 'oh it's calm, resolute,' the citizens are actually freaking out a little bit more than that," he said.
But Steece and his family will not be on that flight leaving China tomorrow. However, for the lucky ones that do take that flight to San Francisco, the U.S. Embassy said that they should ":anticipate being screened when they land."
More about coronavirus, evacuations ordered, Screening, US consulate staff, Quarantine
 
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