One of the 195 Americans evacuated from the virus outbreak zone in China and temporarily housed at a Southern California military base for monitoring tried to leave the base and was placed under quarantine, an official said Thursday.
The person indicated a desire to leave March Air Reserve Base and tried to do so Wednesday night and was ordered quarantined by Riverside County officials for the entire 14-day period in which the virus could incubate unless cleared medically earlier, said Jose Arballo Jr., a spokesman for the county’s public health agency.
He did not identify the person and declined to provide details about how the person tried to leave the base, which is east of Los Angeles.
The order was issued “as a result of the unknown risk to the public” because the person had not undergone the full virus monitoring process, the agency said in a statement.
On Thursday, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak that has spread to more than a dozen countries as a global emergency.
After the plane chartered by the U.S. government arrived at the base Wednesday with the evacuees from the Chinese city of Wuhan, federal officials dodged questions from reporters on whether people would be allowed to leave before a three-day testing and monitoring period was up.
They said only that officials would have “discussions” if any of them asked to leave the base before that time period ended.
Arballo said none of the Americans housed at base for monitoring have shown symptoms of being infected with the virus since their arrival. It has sickened nearly 7,800 and killed more than 170 people. Most cases are in China.
The U.S. on Thursday confirmed the country’s first case of person-to-person spread of the virus.
The man who got the virus is married to a Chicago woman in her 60s who got sick from the virus after she returned from a trip to Wuhan.