53 Self-Monitor for Coronavirus in Hawai‘i After Visiting Japanese Couple Tests Positive

February 17, 2020, 1:43 PM HST (Updated March 12, 2020, 6:24 PM)
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The state Department of Health is still investigating potential biohazardous fallout following a Japanese couple diagnosed with COVID-19 following a trip to Hawai‘i.

DOH officials released an infographic Monday listing the number of people self-monitoring, as well as those in state quarantine. The graph also provides other relevant data.

The number of self-monitoring cases in Hawai‘i tallied at 53 Monday, with one man still in quarantine after returning to the state following a jaunt through China’s Hubei Province on Feb. 8. Hubei is the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, also known as coronavirus, and it remains home to the vast majority of the some 71,000 confirmed cases of the disease, as well as most of the near 1,900 deaths.

While DOH offered no specific update for the man in the quarantine center at Pearl Harbor, state officials continue to relay there are no confirmed cases of the virus in the state as of Monday afternoon.

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According to a press release, DOH immediately began an investigation to identify possible close contacts of the Japanese couple and determine health risk. The couple, in their 60s, spent the days between Jan. 28 and Feb. 7 in Hawai‘i, first on Maui and then the Waikiki area in O‘ahu.

The couple flew Delta, according to a report by USA Today Monday.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, has tried in recent days to reassure Hawaiian residents that the disease is most contagious when the infected are presenting with symptoms. However, the husband in the Japanese couple was showing signs of illness during the trip, particularly in its later stages.

Still, DOH says that to date, no individuals who experienced prolonged close contact with the couple have been identified in Hawai‘i. Casual contacts who are not at risk have been interviewed and are not in need of monitoring based on current federal guidelines, the release said.

All persons identified are either low or no risk, and no one is required to be monitored under public health supervision related to this situation, DOH continued. Work to track possible close contacts is ongoing, and DOH is working closely with state, federal and international partners, officials said.

DOH is actively preparing for possible cases and working with state, county and federal partners including the medical community and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The following summary, as of Feb. 17, 2020, shows the 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, the department said.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of Feb. 17, 2020
(updated as new information becomes available)

Number of Confirmed Case(s) 0
Number of Persons Under Investigation (current, testing pending) 0
Number of Persons Under Investigation (closed, testing negative) 0
Number of Persons Under Quarantine 1
Number of Persons Self-Monitoring53

Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory.

Person Under Investigation (PUI): Meets CDC criteria for investigation and testing pending.

Quarantine: Individuals are required to remain in a designated location and separated from others. They are actively monitored by Department of Health staff. Quarantine is enforceable by law.

Monitoring: Individuals voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places and public transit. They communicate daily with Department of Health staff.

Max Dible
Max Dible is a reporter for Big Island Now. He will also serve in a news capacity for Pacific Media Group's Hawai‘i Island family of radio stations. He formerly worked as a community reporter for West Hawai‘i Today in Kailua-Kona from 2016 to 2019. Before that, he was a sports editor, sports reporter and radio talk show personality with the Iowa State Daily and KURE 88.5 FM, respectively, in Ames, Iowa. He's won several regional and national journalism awards, at both the collegiate and professional levels, for breaking news, long-form feature writing and his work as a sports columnist.
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