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Ontario Airport Tapped To Repatriate Americans Returning From Wuhan

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UPDATE: Ontario Airport is no longer on tap to repatriate Americans returning from Wuhan. Airport officials said late Tuesday the plane is now expected to land at nearby March AFB after a stop in Alaska. Read the latest >>

We learned late Monday night that Ontario International Airport has been tapped to serve as a repatriation center for Americans being evacuated from Wuhan, China — the city at the center of the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A jet carrying as many as 240 U.S. consulate employees and others is scheduled to arrive at Ontario International Airport this week.

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Authorities say the plane will take off Wednesday and stop first in Alaska.

If anyone shows signs of infection, they won't be allowed to leave. Everyone will be checked again once they get to Ontario.

There have been five cases of novel coronavirus in the United States, including one each in L.A. and Orange counties. All patients had traveled in the Wuhan area.

San Bernardino County officials said in a statement that they are:

"Working closely with our state, city and [Ontario airport] 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."

Ontario International officials noted that their facility "was designated by the federal government as the official repatriation center for California about a decade ago" and has since gone through exercises to prep for such an event. They also said any repatriation will not interrupt normal operations at the airport, which served more than 5 million passengers last year.