Post-arrival surveillance testing finds a handful of Hawaii travelers with COVID-19

Post-arrival surveillance testing finds a handful of Hawaii travelers with COVID-19
The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine is expanding COVID-19 testing, but is also conducting important research that will help our understanding of the virus. (Source: Hawaii News Now/file)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A handful of trans-Pacific travelers have tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in the islands, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said Thursday.

Green said the positives were identified through surveillance testing, or randomized testing that’s designed to find the prevalence of the virus in a given community.

The state has pledged to conduct post-arrival tests of about 10% of incoming travelers.

Out of 9,323 tests conducted so far, Green said, six passengers tested positive for COVID-19. That translates into 1 out 1,553 passengers ― lower than what the state had anticipated.

If that rate holds, it would mean that roughly 50 of the more than 82,000 travelers who have come into the state through the pre-travel testing program since it’s launch Oct. 15 have been positive for coronavirus ― even though they tested negative before departure.

Secondary, post-arrival tests conducted through the surveillance testing program are voluntary. Travelers are selected at random and offered a free COVID-19 test to be taken four days after landing.

It’s unclear what the breakdown (residents to visitors) of those being tested is.

Officials have noted that the pre-travel testing program provides safeguards but doesn’t eliminate the chances of the virus slipping in, especially by way of asymptomatic passengers.

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