Flight carrying 210 from coronavirus epicenter lands in Riverside County

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A flight carrying 210 people — mostly U.S. citizens — from the Chinese city where officials believe the coronovirus outbreak began, arrived in Riverside County Wednesday morning.

A news conference providing an update is scheduled at 11 a.m. at the Riverside University Health System Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

Officials in attendance will include: Dr. Nancy Knight, with the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, and Riverside County supervisors V. Manuel Perez and Jeff Hewitt.

The outbreak’s epicenter is in Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, and Chinese authorities confirmed at least 5,500 cases have been diagnosed. About 130 people have died as a result of the virus.

Health officials say there are 60 cases in 13 other countries outside of China, including five in the United States. None of them, though, are in Riverside County.

Wednesday’s flight from Wuhan touched down just after 8 a.m. at March Air Reserve Base near Moreno Valley, where passengers were expected to undergo health screenings. 

“The screening process will be very thorough and ensure these people can get back home and not put anyone at risk,” Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s public health officer, said in a statement. “Once we were informed of the possibility the flight would arrive at March, we began a collaborative process for a plan to protect the health and well-being of the passengers and the residents of Riverside County.”

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, from pneumonia to Middle East respiratory syndrome, known as MERS, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

Common signs of infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause high fever, kidney failure and death.  

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