PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) – A Bay Area woman and her daughter have returned home after being airlifted out of China due to the coronavirus outbreak and spending two weeks under quarantine at a Southern California military base.
Esther Tebeka and her 15-year-old daughter, Chaya, arrived back home late Tuesday night. The pair were among about 200 people evacuated from Wuhan on January 28th, spending 14 days at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside County.
Tebeka and her daughter were visiting family in Wuhan in mid-January, when word began to spread of a mysterious illness overtaking the city. She said panic set in when the Chinese government locked down all forms of travel in the city of 11 million people on January 22.
She began a steady stream of emails and calls to local US consulates, and even enlisted the help of a rabbi in Beijing to pressure government officials to get her and her daughter on an evacuation flight.
“Exhausted, but very happy,” Tebeka told KPIX 5 shortly after arriving home.
Tebeka added, “I understand people’s fear and worry. On my part, I can do something, I will do it, by quarantining myself a little longer. I don’t mind, at least for this week.”
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The Palo Alto woman said the public should not fear the return of coronavirus evacuees returning home, because they have been cleared by the Centers for Disease Control.
Just before her release, Tebeka told KPIX 5 that she feared evacuees would be seen as “The Walking Dead,” a reference to the hit TV show about zombies.
Health experts have said, however, those under quarantine are being isolated longer than the incubation period for the coronavirus.
“I think that people should be very calm about people coming back,” said Stanford Professor of Pediatrics and Infectious Diseases Yvonne Maldonado. “I think if anything, people should be especially not concerned about these people coming back, because they know that they’ve been very thoroughly screened and tested multiple times.”