Local Testing For COVID-19 Possible as Early as Next Week

February 27, 2020, 2:55 PM HST (Updated March 12, 2020, 6:35 PM)
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There are three components to COVID-19 test kits, all of which have arrived in Hawai‘i, according to a Department of Health report.

There was a concern about one of the components, which held up localized testing, but DOH reported that the CDC has said the state’s laboratory can start the verification process immediately. That means Hawai‘i could have testing capacity as early as next week.

On Thursday, the CDC updated the definition of a Person Under Investigation (PUI) to account for travelers to other areas. CDC has posted updated Criteria to Guide Evaluation of PUI for COVID-19 online.

National travel advisories

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The US State Department has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning Avoid Non-essential Travel for South Korea.

The US State Department has issued a level 4 travel advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the COVID-19 outbreak. There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas.

A level 2 travel advisory has been issued for Japan and advises people to exercise increased caution, especially for older adults and those with medical conditions.

Before you travel, check out Travel Advisories and Alerts for your destination(s) online. The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide specific advice to travelers on their websites.

Per the Department of Transportation, the Diamond Princess cruise ship is not coming to Hawai‘i and has not made any requests to do so.

Prepare now for potential risks

The public health response is multi-layered, DOH said, with the goal of detecting and minimizing COVID-19. While there are no cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawai‘i at this time, state health officials do expect to eventually identify cases in the state because this is a global health threat to the entire nation. At this time, the imminent threat here in Hawai‘i is low. Nevertheless, state and county agencies are intensifying their preparations, DOH said.

The Department of Health is advising people to take steps now to prepare should the risk of community spread increase.

Prepare a family plan should there be a COVID-19 outbreak in Hawai‘i. A family plan worksheet can be downloaded online.

If you have a large family in one home, consider what measures you can take to prevent the spread of illness. For a comprehensive list of specific measures you can take, click this link.

Prepare a kit similar to those used during hurricane seasons. These should include a 14 day supply of food, water and other necessities. For more information, visit this site.

Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication. The DOH recommends a three-month supply.

Don’t forget supplies for your pets.

Business continuity preparedness

Should the situation escalate in Hawai‘i, state and county agencies are actively preparing for continuity of business operations to deal with the potential threat of COVID-19’s impact. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations during a public health emergency.

New Case in California

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19.

At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown. This case brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States to 15.

Japan School Closures

Japan has ordered all elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide to close from Monday through spring break, which typically ends in early April.

No cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawai‘i at this time

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawai‘i. DOH is actively preparing for possible cases and working with state, county and federal partners including the medical community in Hawai‘i.

The following summary, as of Feb. 25, 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. Inouye International Airport. These numbers fluctuate often as travelers arrive, depart or begin and end their self-monitoring with supervision by DOH.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of Feb. 27, 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  0
Number of Persons Self-Monitoring with DOH supervision80

Of the 80 individuals who are self-monitoring with public health supervision, 73 are on O‘ahu, five are on Hawai‘i Island, one is on Maui and one is on Kaua‘i.

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.

Preventing the spread of misinformation and disease

People are urged not to spread misinformation or inaccurate statements that are not confirmed, and keep updated and informed on the situation.

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.
  • Sign up for public notifications at health.hawaii.gov/news/covid-19-updates

Screening of arriving passengers at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu

Foreign nationals who have been in mainland China within the last 14 days are being denied entry into the U.S. This includes not only people with a Chinese passport, but all foreign nationals per Department of Homeland Security guidance. The exception is US citizens, legal permanent US residents or their immediate family.

Wearing Masks

A mask can be effective if you are ill and can prevent the spread of your illness. A mask is not effective to wear when you are well and want to protect yourself from someone who is ill.

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