Passengers arriving at Ontario International Airport
Passengers arriving at Ontario International Airport. Courtesy of the airport

A chartered flight with as many as 240 Americans evacuating the coronavirus-wracked region of China is expected to land at Ontario International Airport.

San Bernardino County officials said Monday night they have been notified that the airport will serve as the repatriation point for State Department employees and other U.S. citizens who are evacuating the Wuhan region.

“County departments and personnel are working closely with our state, city, and ONT partners to prepare for this possible repatriation, focusing on ensuring the arriving citizens are free of any illness before clearing them to proceed to their respective U.S. destinations, and protecting the San Bernardino County community from the possibility of exposure to any contagions,” the county said in a statement.

While no timetable was released, authorities said the aircraft would land first in Alaska, where occupants would be examined by personnel from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No passengers with symptoms of illness would be allowed to proceed into the continental United States.

Upon arrival in Ontario, passengers would again be screened by CDC personnel and then monitored for up to two weeks.

The Ontario airport was designated by the federal government as the official repatriation center for California about a decade ago, and county agencies have practiced and  “are prepared for this type of event,” according to the county’s statement.

The county said  temporary living quarters will be established at the airport “far removed from the passenger terminals and other public areas.”

The City of Ontario tweeted that it “is proud it has assets to assist our U.S. government officials returning home…We have trained and exercised with our government partners in preparations for situations like this.”

Two cases of coronavirus involving travelers from Wuhan were reported in Southern California over the weekend.

Show comments

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.