Man Tests Positive for Coronavirus After Hawai‘i Visit

February 14, 2020, 1:15 PM HST (Updated February 14, 2020, 3:06 PM)
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A Japanese man is being treated for the coronavirus after a recent trip to Hawai‘i.

During a press conference this afternoon, Gov. David Ige confirmed the man was in Hawai‘i with his wife from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7. When he returned home to Japan, he was confirmed to have the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

“We do believe this is a serious concern,” Ige said. “There is still much we don’t know. We’re in contact with the Japanese government.”

The governor added that government and private sector partners have been preparing for this scenario and have systems in place to address the situation.

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Director of the Hawai‘i Department of Health Bruce Anderson said the Japanese visitor flew from Japan to Maui then to Honolulu, before returning home. While on Maui, health officials say he presented no symptoms.

The visitor developed cold-like symptoms without a fever while on O‘ahu. The man didn’t seek treatment during his stay, Anderson said.

At this point, Anderson added, they are investigating the situation by trying identify any close contacts the individual may have had while in Honolulu. Once those individuals are identified, they will be home monitored or quarantined for 14 days.

From what they know of the coronavirus, health officials say, the incubation period is seven to 14 days. Based on that, officials believe the traveler was likely infected in Japan or on his flight to Hawai‘i.

As officials continue to investigate this case, Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, asked that residents continue to wash their hands, cover their sneezes and coughs and stay home if sick. Before sounding off alarms, get a flu test done.

“That will still be more common than the coronavirus,” Park said.

Tiffany DeMasters
Tiffany DeMasters is a reporter for Big Island Now. Tiffany worked as the cops and courts reporter for West Hawaii Today from 2017 to 2019. She also contributed stories to Ke Ola Magazine and Honolulu Civil Beat. Tiffany is an award-winning journalist, receiving recognition from the Utah-Idaho-Spokane Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists. Tiffany grew up on the Big Island and is passionate about telling the community’s stories.
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