Wuhan, China, evacuees being held at a military base in California drafted a petition demanding improvements to the CDC’s quarantine protocol after a person infected with the coronavirus COVID-19 was accidentally released from hospital isolation.
Passengers aboard a State Department-mandated evacuation flight from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak, have been quarantined at the Marine Corps Air Station in Miramar.
One passenger, who tested positive for the coronavirus, was accidentally released from isolation at UC San Diego Medical Center back to the air base on Monday. The woman was discharged prematurely after her results were mislabeled, per the CDC’s methodology to protect patients’ identities, local news station KNSD reported.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the woman and three others were discharged and on the way back to the base when it was discovered that three of four tests had not been processed yet.
“We decided, OK, we’re going to put these people in isolation in their rooms and instruct them not to leave, not to mingle with the general population there at Miramar base, and we’re going to wait for the results of those tests,” CDC official Dr. Christopher Braden told The Union-Tribune. “Well, of course, as luck would have it, it was one of those tests that came back positive.”
The woman’s symptoms were described as mild and she was not exposed to members of the public. The woman was not symptomatic before she went to the hospital for testing, so it’s unclear what impact if any it will have on the others in quarantine at the base. The three people she was transported with, however, will likely have to extend their quarantine time, The Union-Tribune reported.
Still those on the base are concerned about their overall safety. The petition from those in quarantine was written “in light of the first confirmed case at Miramar coupled with the current precautions taken at the center,” and the listed improvements were “critical measures toward mitigating the potential risk of spreading the virus at the Miramar Center.”
The five suggestions in the petition are as follows:
- “Everyone in the facility be tested.
- “Preventing the gathering of large numbers of people into small, enclosed environments; suggesting meals be delivered to the door and town hall meetings through conference calls.
- “Periodic delivery of personal protective gear to each room, including masks and sanitizing alcohol for in-room disinfection.
- “Provision of hand sanitizer at the front desk and in the playground.
- “Disinfection of public areas two to three times a day, including playground, laundry room, door knobs, etc.”
“We really felt the need for these basic things to be addressed,” Jacob Wilson, who is being held at the airbase, told KNSD, “and we hope that the petition would at least be able to address these basic concerns.”
Wilson described what it was like under quarantine at the air base, saying the CDC recommended the residents stand six feet away from each other, but they are placed shoulder-to-shoulder for daily temperature checks, which he said “flies in the face of the protections and precautions.”
“We’re trying our best to disinfect things with the hand soap that we’ve been given, even though we don’t have disinfectant,” he told The Daily Beast. “We’re frustrated and worried.”
The 232 Wuhan evacuees arrived at MCAS Miramar on two flights — one on February 5 and the other on February 6. All passengers were subject to 14-day quarantines starting the day they left China.
Thus far there have been 14 cases reported in the US.