Hawaii resident placed in mandatory quarantine after returning from epicenter of outbreak

Updated: Feb. 11, 2020 at 5:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A Hawaii resident who recently returned from the Chinese province that’s been identified as the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak has been placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine at Pearl Harbor after returning to the islands, officials said.

The resident is displaying no symptoms of the deadly virus, they stressed.

Officials also said Monday that the state has still not seen any cases of the coronavirus.

Some 26 people who have entered the islands from elsewhere in China, meanwhile, are undergoing monitoring and have self-quarantined in their homes or in lodging.

None of those individuals have exhibited any symptoms of the disease, either.

Mufi Hannemann, President and CEO of the Hawaii Lodging and Tourism Association, said Hawaii’s lodging industry is taking the threat of novel coronavirus very seriously.

"We are in constant communication as we monitor developments on this issue and we are working with our hoteliers to make sure that their front line employees are as safe as possible, and are educated on how to decrease the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading in Hawaii. Our hoteliers are also undertaking more precautionary steps by increasing the frequency of their cleaning rotations, installing hand sanitizers throughout their properties, and, above all, educating their staffs on how this virus is spread,” Hannemann said.

State Health Director Bruce Anderson said that some of the 26 are residents, while others plan to resume travel elsewhere in the United States after the quarantine period.

A spokesperson for the ride-share company Uber said they have a dedicated online portal for public health authorities to contact them for information about riders and drivers and will take action on any user accounts.

“We have been working with public health authorities across the U.S. and the world to respond timely in public health emergencies, and our teams are in regular contact with them,” said the spokesperson.

Lt. Gov. Josh Green said officials were notified Monday morning about the Hawaii resident who returned from Hubei province earlier in the day.

The resident was traveling alone and is “fully compliant.”

Under new entry guidelines, Americans entering the United States from Hubei province are required to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine.

The traveler who arrived Monday was the first in the islands to require mandatory quarantine. A quarantine center has been established at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Anderson said the resident was in Hubei province on Feb. 8, and departed for another country before coming to Hawaii. All direct flights from China to the United States have been canceled.

Honolulu’s airport is one of 11 facilities around the country equipped to accept travelers from China who may require mandatory or self-quarantine.

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, stressed the traveler from Hubei Province presents a “low risk.”

“As a precaution and following the federal guidelines ... we are putting him in quarantine at this time,” Park said. “The risk from this particular healthy individual ― very low.”

The briefing comes as China is reporting a rise in coronavirus cases, denting optimism that disease control measures which isolated major cities might be working.

China’s health ministry said another 3,062 cases had been reported over the previous 24 hours, raising the Chinese mainland’s total to 40,171. The mainland death toll has risen by 97 to 908.

Monday’s rise was a turnaround from a significant reduction in new cases reported Sunday that briefly prompted optimism prevention methods such as strict quarantines may be working.

There have been just 12 cases of the coronavirus in the United States and no deaths.

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