US evacuates staff, citizens from Wuhan, China


WASHINGTON – The US Department of State on Thursday announced the US staff and citizens were airlifted out of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the heart of the coronavirus outbreak.

Anadolu Agency reported that State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus – in a statement –said the US evacuated its citizens, including diplomats, from Wuhan.

She said the plane carrying American diplomats and citizens had arrived in California, adding that passengers received medical examinations upon landing.

In the statement, she reiterated that the US citizens should not travel to China unless necessary.

The US administration also formed a task force in line with the National Biodefence Strategy signed by President Donald Trump in 2018, whose members have reportedly met every day since Monday.

Chairing the Wednesday meeting of the President’s Coronovirus Task Force, Trump early Thursday said he “Just received a briefing on the Coronavirus in China from all of our GREAT agencies, who are also working closely with China.”

He said they will continue to monitor the situation.

The coronavirus, so named because under the microscope it resembles a crown, has killed at least 132 people in China with nearly 6,000 infected. More than 60,000 people have come under medical observation.

Since its outbreak late last year, China has put Wuhan under lockdown in a bid to contain the virus and is building a 1,000-bed hospital in the city to treat those affected by the outbreak.

Beyond China, the virus has spread to Japan, South Korea, Thailand, the US, Singapore, France, Vietnam and Canada.

Travelers from China are being screened for the virus at airports worldwide. Several airlines have suspended flights to Wuhan.

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergency committee will reconvene on Thursday, the third time in a week, to evaluate the risks ahead for an international emergency.