Elderly man ‘very ill’ with coronavirus after returning from Washington state

Updated: Mar. 9, 2020 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - An elderly man who recently traveled to Washington state is Hawaii’s second presumptive case of coronavirus, state officials announced Sunday.

The man, from Oahu, is now “very ill” and hospitalized at Kaiser Moanalua Medical Center.

Here’s what we know:

  • Officials said he got sick on March 2 and returned to Hawaii on March 4.
  • On March 4, he flew from Seattle to Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines Flight HA21. Hawaiian Airlines said they’re working with public health agencies to reach out to passengers and crew.
  • After returning to Oahu, he sought care at an urgent care facility. He was not tested for coronavirus and was sent home.
  • On March 7, an ambulance was called to take the man from his home to Kaiser Moanalua. It was at that point that he was tested for coronavirus and the positive came back Sunday.

State health officials say they’re working to determine who the man had contact with and could be at risk for getting sick. They said some people may be asked to self-quarantine.

“This is a very ill individual and from what we understand of the story, basically stayed at home in bed until the ambulance was called,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist.

The patient is in isolation at the hospital.

Kaiser said it’s following CDC infection protocol.

“Kaiser Permanente has confronted highly infectious diseases for years," Kaiser said, in a statement.

"Staff are following CDC protocols and we’re confident we can safely treat patients who’ve been infected with this virus, with limited risk to other patients, members, and employees.”

State officials say they are working with the CDC to identify those who may have come in close contact with the man as a part of the ongoing investigation.

“Primarily, did you have face-to-face contact with this person for a significant time? That’s what we’re looking for. That’s what is the risk," Park said.

“If you just passed someone, that’s not really the risk. That’s not the risk that we’re looking for.”

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Park added: “At this time as you might imagine, our staff at the department are working very hard to try and determine if there are any other potential close contacts to this individual. From the history we have thus far, we are confident there are very few in terms of direct contact in the state."

Despite the latest diagnosis, health officials are pointing to one thin silver lining: The virus hasn’t shown signs of person-to-person transmission in Hawaii so far.

“We have not yet had any cases of COVID-19 that have been transmitted among residents here in Hawaii. All the individuals we’ve identified so far have a travel history to some area where COVID-19 is circulating outside of Hawaii,” DOH Director Bruce Anderson said. “That’s the good news.”

This story will be updated.

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