Maryknoll School officials said two students and two teachers in Hawaii in an exchange program from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus outbreak — are symptomless and scheduled to depart Monday.
Maryknoll officials contacted the Health Department and sent out an email to parents today because of heightened awareness about the disease, which has sickened hundreds and killed 17.
The state Department of Health, which is advising Hawaii doctors to be on the alert for patients who have traveled to Wuhan, told the school since the students have not had any symptoms within 72 hours of their arrival, there shouldn’t be any cause for concern, Maryknoll said. The students and teachers arrived Friday.
The four individuals from Wuhan No. 1 Senior High School have been symptom-free before and during their visit. The school has had no reported cases of the virus, Maryknoll said.
The school canceled the remainder of the on-campus activities over the next few days, so people do not feel concerned and “out of an abundance of caution,” Maryknoll spokesman Keenan Kurihara said.
DOH “also emphasized that the last thing they want is any kind of public alarm or panic,” he said. “Our intent is the safety and well-being of our school community, our exchange guests and that everyone is safe.”
He is not aware of any problems the students and teachers may have in getting home. People will not be allowed to leave Wuhan. All outbound flights, trains, buses and ferries were being halted.
State epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park advised that anyone 6 months of age or older have a flu vaccination, especially those who travel. She said confusion could arise since seasonal influenza activity is occurring now, and flu symptoms, such as fever and cough, may be similar to the coronavirus.
The outbreak of the virus in Wuhan has been developing since December 2019. There are more than 500 confirmed cases in China and the death toll is at 17. There are also confirmed cases in Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States (one case only in Washington state).
DOH today sent out a medical advisory to health-care providers on reporting, testing, specimen collection and interim health-care infection control recommendations for the virus.
A Seattle area man in his 30s had been traveling alone in Wuhan since November, a Seattle Times article said Wednesday.
While the coronavirus is usually spread animal to human, it is believed it made the jump at a Wuhan animal market, but the man said he didn’t visit an animal market and wasn’t in contact with anyone he knew to be ill, the article said.
He felt pneumonia symptoms several days after returning home, and has been hospitalized since Sunday, but was in satisfactory condition Wednesday.
The man had close contact with at least 16 people, who are being monitored.
“While human-to-human transmission appears limited, the situation continues to evolve,” DOH said. “Nearly all travelers from China enter the state from other U.S. or international ports of entry, which are being monitored.”
The department is closely monitoring the outbreak and coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
DOH is also coordinating with Emergency Medical Services, the Department of Transportation and infection control partners in medical facilities across the state, and monitoring its respiratory surveillance network.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.