Reports: U.S. orders diplomats to leave Wuhan amid coronavirus outbreak

People wear protective respiratory masks in Beijing on Saturday. The U.S. State Department is arranging a chartered flight to evacuate U.S. diplomats and other Americans from Wuhan, China. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UP

Jan. 25 (UPI) — The U.S. government has ordered all U.S. diplomats in Wuhan, China, to leave the city amid a growing coronavirus outbreak that has killed dozens, State Department officials said Saturday.

The unnamed officials told CNN and The New York Times that the State Department has arranged a chartered flight to evacuate the diplomats from Wuhan. The department also closed the consulate there.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report the move.

The news comes as the Chinese government announced that the death toll from the virus has increased to 41, with an additional 1,200 people sickened. There have been reported cases in a number of other countries, including the United States, Australia, France, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, Macao, Malaysia, Nepal, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam.

A source told the WSJ that the consulate has reached out to other Americans in China to offer them a spot on the planned chartered flight, which is expected to seat about 230 people. Any still-available seats will be offered to non-Americans and other diplomats.

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Those on board will be required to pay the chartered flight fee.

The source said the flight will also have a trained medical professional on board to treat anyone who might be showing signs of the virus.

The New York Times reported the flight will likely transport the passengers to somewhere on the U.S. West Coast.

Officials estimate there are about 1,000 Americans in Wuhan, which is ground zero for the coronavirus outbreak. China believes the outbreak started in a now-closed market in the city.

There have been two confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, one in Washington and the other in Chicago.

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