US Repatriated over 50,000 Americans Since Coronavirus Outbreak, Says Mike Pompeo

Washington: The US has repatriated more than 50,000 American citizens stranded around the world by various shutdowns during the coronavirus pandemic, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Speaking at the daily White House coronavirus task force press briefing, Pompeo on Wednesday said the effort from the State Department to repatriate Americans from more than 90 countries is without parallel in our lifetime.

"Since January 29, we have now repatriated over 50,000 United States citizens back to their homes from more than 90 countries more than 490 flights back to the United States from all across the world, Pompeo told reporters at a White House news conference on the coronavirus.

"This worldwide scale of our repatriation efforts is without parallel in our lifetime and we are coordinating with foreign governments, militaries, airport authorities, medical units, transportation companies, hotels you name it we are working with them to make sure the American people get back to be with their families, he said.

While Pompeo did not specifically mentioned India, more than a 1,000 Americans have been repatriated from India as well. Some of the repatriation efforts, he said, have been remarkable stories.

"Our mission in Peru working with the Peruvian military and police forces to send riverboats up the river to get citizens that were stranded deep inside the Amazon forest. Our mission in Nepal make sure there a woman who was running low on medication could get what she needed a pharmacy before boarding an evacuation fight that brought her back here, he said.

In Honduras after the government imposed very strict 24/7 curfew and closed airports, the US embassy sprang into action for stranded Americans, thousands of them.

A three-year-old boy told one of our consular officers just before he boarded the flight thank you for helping me get back home to my dad; pretty neat, he said.

Pompeo said he has received similar messages from lots of people that are proud to know that their country will not leave them stranded.

One woman wrote 'I was in tears when I received an email approving our flight back to the United States God bless the United States of America', and another said 'I felt like I had allies there that actually treated me like a person or family member, not just a number', he added.

The repatriation effort is going to continue, he said.

The vast majority of these 50,000 weren't our officers; these are ordinary citizens who were there travelling for business or for commercial or for their trip of a lifetime, he said.

The State Department, he said, is doing its part to protect the American people from the virus and importantly to get them home.

As you know when many countries shut down their rail lines, their buses, their infrastructure the capacity to get out of those countries they were trapped, they were stranded and the State Department swung into action, Pompeo said.

The virus, which first broke out in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, has since spread around the world infecting more than 1.4 million people, killing more than 82,000.

By Wednesday night, more than 14,600 Americans lost their lives due to the coronavirus and over 4.3 lakhs have tested positive for the dreaded disease.