(BIVN) – One person is under quarantine and 56 individuals are self-monitoring for signs of illness across the state, however there are no cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaiʻi at this time, state health officials say.
According to a joint information center daily update issued by the state on Friday, there are a “number of individuals being monitored or under quarantine because of their recent travel to China. These individuals were identified through screening by federal officials at the Daniel K. International Airport.”
Of the 56 persons who are self-monitoring, 4 are on the Big Island. Persons who are self-monitoring are individuals who “voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places, and public transit,” and “communicate daily with Department of Health staff.”
A person who is under quarantine is “required to remain in a designated location and separated from others,” the health department says. “They are actively monitored by Department of Health staff. Quarantine is enforceable by law.”
The health department “is continuing to actively gather facts and interview individuals about a husband and wife who traveled together from Japan to Hawaii (Jan. 28-Feb.6) and after returning home to Japan, tested positive for COVID-19.”
“DOH was notified by the Japan Ministry of Health that the husband remains hospitalized and the wife has recovered,” the release stated. “The airlines and lodging facilities where they stayed on Oahu and Maui are reaching out to employees, staff and guests to keep them informed. DOH immediately began to identify possible close contacts and determine health risk. To date, no individuals with prolonged close contact have been identified in Hawaii. Casual contacts who are not at risk have been interviewed and are not in need of monitoring based on current federal guidelines.”
“All persons identified are either low or no risk under these guidelines, and no one is required to be monitored under public health supervision related to this situation,” the state emphasized. “Work to track possible close contacts is ongoing, and DOH is working closely with state, federal, and international partners.”
But the joint information center also added that there was some significance to Thursday’s date, saying:
February 20 was the last day that any individual who might have been infected by exposure to the visitor would be expected to show symptoms. At this time, there is no indication of transmission or related illness. The investigation has not yielded anyone who many have had prolonged, close contact with the visitor. Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) investigations remain ongoing into the visitor’s itinerary. Businesses have been contacted and informed.
The joint information center reported that on Feb. 20, the CDC announced travel advisories to Watch Level 1 for Japan and Hong Kong. Travelers are advised to practice usual precautions. On the same day, the State Department updated their travel guidance and recommended U.S. citizens reconsider travel by cruise ship to or within East Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region.
State officials also provided this information on the CDC Laboratory Test Kits:
Currently, all laboratory testing to confirm COVID-19 is being conducted at the CDC laboratory in Atlanta, Georgia. The test kits sent to state laboratories, including Hawaii, had an issue with negative control primer probe sets included in each kit. New test kits are being developed by the CDC. It is estimated that Hawaii may receive test kits in early to mid-March. DOH has offered to be a beta-tester for the new kits to ensure they work properly. If Hawaii becomes a beta-tested, it means our state may have earlier access to the testing process.
Per CDC guidelines, testing is only conducted on individuals who meet the criteria as a Person of Interest (PUI), who exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness (cough or shortness of breath) and have traveled to China within the past 14 days.
To date, there have been no samples sent to CDC from Hawaii since no individuals meet the CDC criteria.
The state says everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness with these everyday actions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.