Man diagnosed with coronavirus after Hawaii trip now in critical condition

Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 7:09 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The man who was diagnosed with coronavirus after returning to Japan from a trip to Hawaii is now in critical condition, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Monday.

Green also said the man’s wife — who also contracted coronavirus — was still doing well.

Officials confirmed the couple was diagnosed with the virus after their trip to Hawaii.

At least one of them exhibited “cold-like symptoms” while on Oahu, and they were both officially diagnosed after returning to Japan, the country announced Saturday.

The couple visited Maui and Oahu from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7, and Hawaii officials are now working to piece together their exact itinerary to determine who might have come into close contact with them.

They were on Oahu from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7.

The man was diagnosed with the virus on Feb. 8, after returning to Japan. Japanese news reports say that he had a fever of about 102 degrees.

Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines said it was reaching out to other passengers who may have been on the same flight out of Honolulu as the couple.

Delta was made aware of the situation and said in a statement Sunday the pair flew out of Honolulu to Nagoya on flight 611.

“...We are communicating with the appropriate public health officials, including U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local Japanese authorities. The health and safety of our customers and crews is our top priority, and in cooperation with Japanese health officials, we are proactively reaching out to customers who were onboard that flight as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our customers and crew,” a Delta spokesperson said.

While on Oahu, the couple stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations.

In a statement, the hotel said, “While the Hawaii State Department of Health and other health authorities are aware of the guest’s travel and, importantly, has indicated there is no need for alarm, the safety and health of our team members, owners and guests remains our priority and we are carefully monitoring this situation and will provide updates as appropriate.”

The hotel added it has procedures in place and is working with health officials to ensure the health and safety of guests.

Despite the fear ignited by coronavirus and the few close calls, still there are no confirmed cases actively in the islands.

Department of Health officials, however, did say they are monitoring 58 people across the state as of Saturday, and one person was under mandatory quarantine.

In a news conference Friday, the governor and state Health Department sought to reassure the public about the risk of transmission and stressed that the state’s health care facilities are equipped to handle additional cases if they arise.

“We do believe this is a serious concern,” Gov. David Ige said. "As we get more information about his specific itinerary or places that he visited, then we will examine that and identify any of those workers who might have been exposed.”

State Health Director Bruce Anderson said it’s likely the male visitor was exposed before he left for Hawaii or while on his way here.

“The Department of Health is sending out a medical advisory to all the health care providers in the state to be on alert for possible cases,” Anderson said.

Coronavirus outbreak fears have also been leading to a shortage in hand sanitizers, with empty shelves at stores like Longs and Walgreens. However, health officials say the best precautions to reduce your chances of contracting the coronavirus — and the seasonal flu — are thoroughly washing your hands with soap, not touching your face, covering your cough or sneeze, and staying home when sick.

[Read more: Coronavirus test kits sent to Hawaii are flawed]

[Read more: 2 Hawaii residents on quarantined cruise ship off Japan contract coronavirus]

Ige said the scenario involving a visitor falling ill “is exactly what we’ve been preparing for.”

“I have every confidence that all of our partners ... are fully aware and we do have systems and protocols in place,” he said. “We are taking the necessary actions that we need to.”

State officials said they’re working to track down who else might have had close contact with the couple ― and determine whether any are showing signs of illness.

They don’t believe that people who had casual contact with him or with things that he came in contact with, including items in his hotel room, would be at high risk of contracting the disease.

“We take all potential health risks seriously, and we are responding based on our existing public health protocol and the latest guidance from medical professionals and public health authorities,” Hilton Grand Vacations added.

Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines said the two were on flight HA265 from Kahului to Honolulu on Feb. 3.

“We extend our sincere wishes for this gentlemen’s full recovery and are cooperating with public health agencies to support notification of passengers as they determine is necessary,” a spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines said.

“We are also in the process of reaching out to crew and agents who supported this particular flight to make sure that they are healthy and supported.”

Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist, said the male visitor was wearing a mask while traveling.

She said that news ― and the fact that he didn’t have a fever in Hawaii ― is positive because it means the likelihood that the visitor passed the coronavirus onto others is lower.

“Our focus is who this person might have sat down with, had conversations with, those are the kinds of things that we’re looking for,” Park said.

One Hawaii resident who returned from Hubei province in China remains in quarantine at Pearl Harbor while dozens of others who have recently traveled elsewhere in mainland China are being monitored by the state Health Department. None of those people have exhibited symptoms of the disease.

This story will be updated.

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