Four on Big Island Monitoring for COVID-19

February 21, 2020, 4:12 PM HST (Updated February 21, 2020, 4:12 PM)
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There are four people on the Big Island currently self-monitoring for potential signs of COVID-19, a state Department of Health press release said Friday.

This is the first time since it began releasing daily updates on the status of coronavirus in Hawai‘i that the state has mentioned a potential presence on the Big Island. However, as of Friday afternoon, there remained no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Hawaiian Islands.

Currently, there are 56 people within Hawaiian borders self-monitoring, with one man still in quarantine.

DOH said Friday was the last day that any individual who might have been infected by exposure to a visiting Japanese couple would be expected to show symptoms. At this time, there is no indication of transmission or related illness.

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The couple traveled to Maui and O‘ahu from Jan. 28 to Feb. 6, 2020. DOH’s investigation has not yielded anyone who many have had prolonged, close contact with the couple. Investigations into their itinerary remain ongoing. Businesses have been contacted and informed, DOH said.

Travel Advisories

On Feb. 20, the CDC announced travel advisories to Watch Level 1 for Japan and Hong Kong. Travelers are advised to practice the usual precautions. For more information, go online.

On Feb. 20, the State Department updated its travel guidance and recommended US citizens reconsider travel by cruise ship to or within East Asia and the Asia-Pacific Region.

Cruise Ships

American passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been flown to bases in California and Texas for quarantine for 14 days. These actions are under federal authority and, at this time, the Department of Health does not have information on the passengers who are Hawai‘i residents, the state said.

The Department of Health has been notified of at least four Hawai‘i residents who were passengers on the Westerdam cruise ship (Holland America) and have returned home. DOH is in contact with these individuals and was advised that the cruise passengers are not at risk and do not pose a risk to others.

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 Hawai‘i, 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 Hawai‘i 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 Hawai‘i becomes a beta-tested, it means the 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 Hawai‘i since no individuals meet the CDC criteria, DOH said.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of Feb. 21, 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-Monitoring56

Of the 56 individuals who are self-monitoring, 51 are on O‘ahu, four are on the Big Island and one is on Maui.

CDC Category Definitions

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.

To avoid the spread of disease, practice the following:

  • 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.

COVID-19 FAQs are now available in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Ilocano languages under “Resources” at the DOH website.

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