14:05 GMT10 April 2021
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    The US Defense Department announced Thursday that 11 more bases may be made available to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to quarantine more evacuees from China amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

    Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday declared that 11 military installations near major airports will be made available for people coming from China “should HHS facilities become filled,” Military.com reported.

    The potential installations include the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, the Great Lakes Training Center Navy Base in Illinois, the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Georgia, Fort Hamilton in New York, the Naval Base Kitsap in Washington, the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, DC, the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the Fort Custer Training Center in  Michigan and the March Air Reserve and Travis Air Force Bases in California.

    The March Air Reserve and Travis Air Force Bases are already hosting coronavirus evacuees, as are the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California, Fort Carson in Colorado, Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and Camp Ashland in Nebraska. Around 200 evacuees arrived at the March Air Reserve Base last week, according to Military.com. On Wednesday, around 350 evacuees arrived at Travis AFB. Although none of the travelers have shown any symptoms associated with the coronavirus, they will remain quarantined at the base for the next two weeks.

    "Under the request, DoD support at each location will be limited to providing housing support for up to 20 people as they undergo a period of quarantined observation," the Pentagon recently said, referring to the installations already housing evacuees. 

    The HHS is responsible for the transportation, care and security of all evacuees and must make sure that no “evacuated personnel are transferred to any DoD installation if they are infected or ill," the Pentagon declared earlier this week. Additionally, military and DoD personnel are not allowed to have direct contact with evacuees.

    Officials confirmed last week 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 on January 31, with Alex Azar, the US secretary of HHS, explaining 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. As for US citizens who have been in China's Hubei Province, where the virus originated, they "will be subject to up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine to ensure they’re provided proper medical care and health screening.”

    The coronavirus has infected more than 31,000 people worldwide, but just 12 within the US. Only 317 infections have been reported outside of mainland China. The virus has led to 638 deaths, 618 of which occurred in Hubei Province, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science.


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