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Pompeo: U.S. to evacuate more Americans from China

Pompeo: U.S. to evacuate more Americans from China
Passengers are taken off of the Kalitta Air Boeing 747-400 freighter and shuttled onto waiting busses (R) at the March Air Reserve Base carrying about 200 American evacuees in Riverside, Calif., on  Jan. 29. Photo by Etienne Laurent/EPA-EFE

Feb. 3 (UPI) -- The United States will evacuate more American citizens from China's Hubei province that has been under lockdown amid a deadly outbreak of a mysterious new virus, U.S. Security of State Mike Pompeo said Monday.

"We have a handful of more flights that will be heading to China to bring Americans back home from Hubei province," he told reporters in Uzbekistan while on a multi-country trip until Tuesday. "The exact timing of those we're still coordinating with the Chinese government, but we anticipate that it will happen in the next handful of days and we will return those American citizens."

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Nearly 200 Americans were flown to an airbase in California from Hubei last week after they had been trapped in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak that began in early December and which has been under lockdown since mid-January.

Pompeo said they might also bring back citizens from other countries in addition to transporting medical supplies to the coronavirus-stricken province.

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"We're working closely and hand-in-hand with the Chinese government to try and resolve what is now this global epidemiological challenge," he said, adding that he will have more details on the flights soon.

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The comments come as the United States implemented restrictions barring non-citizens who have visited China within the past 14 days from entering the country. The Department of Homeland Security also announced that U.S. citizens flying to the United States from China will be re-routed to one of 11 airports where the government has established enhanced screening procedures and quarantine capacity.

The restrictions were implemented as the death toll from the coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, climbed to 362 worldwide after the Phillippines recorded the first death from the virus outside of China.

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However, China lashed back at the United States on Monday for implementing the measures, accusing it of fanning fears of the virus and failing to offer support.

"Most countries appreciate and support China's efforts to fight against the novel coronavirus, and we understand and respect them when they adopt or enhance quarantine measures at border entry," said China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. "But in the meantime, some countries, the U.S. in particulate, have inappropriately overreacted."

She said the United States hasn't provided any "substantial assistance" to China while being the first to evacuate personnel from Wuhan and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travelers.

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"All it has done could only create and spread fear, which is a bad example," she said.

The comments run counter to those President Donald Trump made during an interview Sunday with Fox News' Sean Hannity when he said the United States is offering the Asian nation "tremendous help" concerning the outbreak.

"We have a tremendous relationship with China, which is a very positive thing," he said, adding that the new restrictive measures have "shut it down" from further infestation of the virus.

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The United States has confirmed 11 cases of the coronavirus.

On Saturday, the United States increased its travel advisory for China to Level 4, warning its citizens not to travel to the country. The advisory came days after the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

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