Americans evacuated from Wuhan are being tested for coronavirus at California air base

Man describes U.S. coronavirus evacuation

Last Updated Jan 30, 2020 8:09 AM EST

Nearly 200 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, landed in Southern California Wednesday. They are staying at an air reserve base near Los Angeles voluntarily for up to 14 days to be checked out.

Most people were "quite jovial" ahead of the flight, Ian Thompson, one of the 195 Americans on the flight, told CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.

"I think mainly they were just so relaxed to get outside of Wuhan," he said.

The coronavirus is blamed for at least 170 deaths in China, and nearly 8,000 people are infected worldwide, including five patients in isolation in the U.S.

The flight's passengers were screened every two to three hours before they were greeted by health officials in hazmat suits at the air base, Thompson said.

Asked if there were any high risk individuals on the flight, Dr. Nancy Knight, the director of the Division of Global Health Protection at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said no one responded to the questions indicating they were high risk.

"We're reassessing that now," she said. The CDC's reassessment includes nasal swabs and blood tests.

The results of the tests are expected 72 hours after they are taken, said Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director of the CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

Many other Americans were left behind in Wuhan. James Dickey's ex-wife and 8-year-old daughter were told they were bound for the U.S, but because his daughter didn't have her passport, they were denied entry at the last minute. 

"She told me that they got through several of the screenings, got their tickets, got through the medical check, and then I got a message that said 'It's a no go,'" he said. "I just felt so defeated at that point, and it sort of felt like both countries have let me down. How is a father supposed to feel when his daughter is in harm's way?"

The State Department said it will send more planes to get American citizens out of Wuhan next week.

The World Health Organization was to reconvene again Thursday to determine if the epidemic should be deemed a global health emergency. Officials say the world needs to be on alert now that they have confirmed person-to-person transmission of the disease in Germany, Japan, Canada and Vietnam.