A Bay Area woman and her daughter were among the 195 Americans evacuated from Wuhan, China two weeks ago and sent into quarantine at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside. She's now spoken out about her release, and says she'll self-quarantine a bit longer if it makes friends and neighbors more comfortable.
Esther Tebeka was in China with her daughter last month visiting family when they ended up caught up in the coronavirus outbreak and lockdown of the city of Wuhan. Tebeka is a former news anchor in China who moved to the Bay Area 20 years ago, so she seems to have been compelled to tell her story upon her release. She and her daughter Chaya managed to get passage out of the country with the first State Department-sponsored flight out of Wuhan, which landed at the Southern California base on January 29.
All 195 of the evacuees were cleared on Tuesday and allowed to leave March Air Reserve Base, and Tebeka spoke to ABC 7 via Facetime.
"I've seen what is going on in China, then I got on this flight," Tebeka says, adding, "I'll be happy to take this time off [and] just enjoy the time with my family, and cook good meals for them."
As for social media posts stirring panic about the evacuees still being potentially contaminated, she says, "Don't worry. It's not the end of the world. We are not sick. But if anything, I'm willing to quarantine myself a little further just to make them feel better, make them feel safer."
Speaking to KTVU, Esther's daughter Chaya says, "I'm really grateful for everything the U.S. government has done for us." She is a sophomore in high school and attends boarding school in Chicago.
"Thank God we got out and we're safe," Esther Tebeka adds. She also spoke to the Jewish News of Northern California, saying, "It’s made us stronger. It could have been much worse."
The quarantine continues for another group of Americans staying at Travis Air Force Base in Solano County. That group landed on February 4, so they should be cleared and released early next week.
Yesterday we learned of the first confirmed case of the virus out of the 1,000 or so evacuees — an individual tested positive who was staying at Miramar Marine Base in San Diego. That person was hospitalized and in isolation but had not shown severe symptoms.
A Bay Area woman is also among the estimated 3,600 people trapped aboard a cruise ship docked in Japan where 174 passengers have tested positive for the coronavirus. The remaining passengers on board, mostly stuck in their cabins, will not be allowed off the boat until February 19.
Photo of evacuation flight courtesy of Esther Tebeka