Hawaii records its first case of new coronavirus
HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii officials on Friday said they have confirmed the state’s first case of the new coronavirus in a man who had been on a cruise ship from California to Mexico that had other infected passengers.
The man fell ill after flying home to Oahu from Mexico after the Grand Princess cruise that was scheduled Feb. 11-21, Deputy State Epidemiologist Sarah Kemble said. He did not have symptoms of the disease while he was traveling home, which means he wasn’t at risk for transmitting the disease to others at the time, Kemble said.
He contacted a doctor and was assessed when he fell ill. He was well enough to go home and has been in isolation there, Kemble said. The man hasn’t had any close contact with anyone in Hawaii since falling ill, she said. He tested positive for the disease on Friday.
Gov. David Ige said officials do not believe that the virus is spreading in the community in Hawaii at this time.
The same cruise ship took another voyage from California to Hawaii after the trip to Mexico, bringing some of the same passengers and crew members with it.
The state Department of Health said the vessel made port calls to Nawiliwili on Kauai on Feb. 26, Honolulu on Feb. 27, Lahaina on Maui on Feb. 28, and Hilo on Hawaii Island on Feb. 29.
On Friday, the cruise ship was off the coast of San Francisco after returning from Hawaii while California officials tested those on board for the virus. So far 21 people, including 19 crew members, have tested positive.
State officials were investigating who had close contact with those who tested positive. The department said it’s working to identify who disembarked at each port and identify who had close contact with those individuals.
The department said “close contact” is defined as close personal face-to-face contact for more than 10 minutes. Paying a bill at checkout would not be considered prolonged close contact, it said.
State Department of Health Director Bruce Anderson said the agency wants to begin survey tests of people who have respiratory illnesses to see if any of them might have a case of unrecognized COVID-19.
But he said testing people at risk of having been exposed to the virus will take priority. The state currently has the capacity to test up to 250 samples per week, or double that number in an emergency.