21:54 GMT20 February 2020
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    Four US bases are prepared to assist the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and house US citizens who may have been exposed to the Wuhan coronavirus overseas, Pentagon officials revealed Saturday.

    According to Military.com, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved an HHS request to house around 1,000 people who may have been exposed to the deadly virus while traveling abroad.

    "HHS officials requested the Defense Department to provide several facilities capable of housing at least 250 people in individual rooms through Feb. 29, 2020," officials said Saturday. The four bases are the 168th Regiment, Regional Training Institute, in Fort Carson, Colorado; the Travis Air Force Base in California; the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas; and the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California. The US Defense Department (DOD) will also provide medical care, transportation and security for citizens housed on the bases.

    "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," officials said in the statement, Military.com reported. "In accordance with CDC [US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines, all evacuees will be monitored for a period of 14 days. Should routine monitoring of the evacuees identify ill individuals, HHS has procedures in place to transport them to a local civilian hospital.”  

    The March Air Reserve Base in California is already housing around 200 US citizens who were evacuated from China and are now subject to a two-week quarantine on the base.

    Officials also confirmed that using the bases as quarantine centers will not affect military readiness.

    "The department's primary responsibility is the safety of our force, our families and our base communities," officials stated. "DOD personnel will follow guidance in the memorandum, 'Force Health Protection Guidance for the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak,' to reduce risk."

    The quarantine measures were announced Friday. During the televised briefing, Alex Azar, the US Secretary of HHS, explained that any foreign nationals, other than immediate family of US citizens and permanent residents, who have traveled to China within the past 14 days could be denied entry into the US. Additionally, US citizens who have been in China's Hubei Province, where the virus originated would be, "subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they’re provided proper medical care and health screening.”

    The US Indo-Pacific Command also confirmed Friday that US troops were told to leave China, and any travel to the country by service members or civilians in the command has been banned.

    The death toll from the novel coronavirus has reached at least 362, China's National Health Commission confirmed Monday. The total number of infections globally is currently at 17,491.

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    military base, quarantine, coronavirus, US Pentagon, Pentagon
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