2 Chinese nationals seeking asylum arrived in Hawaii before new restrictions took effect

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 7:59 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The state Health Department is seeking to reassure the public following news that two asylum seekers from China are being held in Honolulu.

The two came to Hawaii before all Chinese nationals were barred from entering the United States ― under new entry restrictions that started Sunday in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said the two were taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and are being held at the Federal Detention Center.

Okubo said the two “present no risk to the public.”

Earlier Tuesday, state Rep. Gene Ward tweeted that there was a “group of mainland Chinese nationals seeking asylum” from the coronavirus.

Authorities did not confirm that information.

Ward tells Hawaii News Now he took to social media because he believes transparency is important.

Statistics on the number of asylum-seekers Hawaii sees per year were not immediately available.

Hawaii State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park says the department is monitoring people who have traveled between China and Hawaii, but none is showing symptoms of the virus at this time.

“A few have stayed here in Hawaii and we’re monitoring them,” Park said.

"They’re staying home from work and school and we anticipate no issues with these individuals.”

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