Delta Airlines is contacting passengers who were aboard a flight from Honolulu to Nagoya, Japan, that was carrying a Japanese man and his wife who were later diagnosed with the new coronavirus.
The airline said it was communicating with health officials, including the 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,” the airline said.
Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Josh Green said the risk of contracting coronavirus from people coming from China should decrease today because it has been 14 days since the federal ban on Chinese nationals entering the country. The CDC says it takes up to 14 days for symptoms from the virus, also known as COVID-19, to appear.
Travelers from countries other than China are at low risk of spreading the disease because more than 70,000 of the roughly 71,000 global cases of the virus have occurred in China. Most of the 1,770 deaths attributed to the disease occurred in China.
On Sunday the state Department of Health said 58 people in Hawaii were self-monitoring and one person was in mandatory quarantine, an increase from 51 people who were self-monitoring on Friday because they had possible contact with the virus. Green said there were no new cases in Hawaii on Sunday, and the one person in mandatory quarantine was not showing symptoms.
Green, who is acting governor while Gov. David Ige is traveling in Japan, said he has daily contact with the head of the CDC for updates. The CDC said the risk for Americans from coronavirus continues to be low.
Delta said the Japanese couple, who are in their 60s, was on Flight 611, which departed Honolulu on Feb. 6 and arrived in Nagoya on Feb. 7. The date conflicted with information provided by the DOH, which had said the couple had departed Hawaii for Japan on Feb. 7. A department spokeswoman said the information came from Japan and might reflect the time difference in Japan.
The Health Department has said the Japanese national traveled to Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and to Oahu from Feb. 3 to 7. He developed severe symptoms in Japan and was diagnosed with coronavirus after leaving Hawaii. He had no symptoms while on Maui and developed coldlike symptoms but no fever on Oahu.
He stayed with his wife at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations and did not seek medical care in the islands. He wore a mask during his flight back to Japan.
On Saturday, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare confirmed his wife also has COVID-19. The man was diagnosed with the virus after being hospitalized with a 102-degree fever Feb. 8, while the woman had a low-grade fever and headaches Friday.
Green said Sunday that the man was critically ill.
“Our prayers are out there with him,” he said. He said the concern is that the mortality rate for the virus is 2.5%, but as high as 20% for seniors.
He said the state has made several contacts with people who have come in casual contact with the man, and there have been no new infections from the man’s case.
Ala Moana resident John Fujiwara said he was contacted by the DOH on Friday after he had a brief home visit Feb. 4 from his friend Teruhito Fujii, 65, who fit the profile of the man confirmed with the virus in Japan. Fujii had the same travel itinerary and lives in the same prefecture of the sick man in Nagoya.
Fujiwara, who hasn’t been able to reach Fujii, said he has been staying home to prevent spreading the illness if he is infected. He has been taking his temperature multiple times a day, and it has been normal. He said he planned to stay home until Tuesday, the 14th day since he had contact with Fujii. The DOH told him he doesn’t need to be monitored based on federal guidelines. Health officials would not comment on whether Fujii had contracted the disease.
Currently, there is no way to test for the virus locally after test kits sent to Hawaii were found to be flawed. Officials hope to get new kits this week. Instead, tests are sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and can take a week or more to yield results.
After reports of the Japanese man’s illness, Hilton Grand Vacations informed owners, guests and employees in a letter Friday about the former guest diagnosed with the virus.
“Although we remain open as usual, we are also working with all current and future guests at the Grand Waikikian to ensure they have the flexibility to change any of their travel plans,” said spokeswoman Megumi Haubner.
Some Waikiki visitors expressed concerned about the virus Sunday, including one woman who said she was trying not to talk about it in front of her son.
Alaska resident Crystal Korevec, who took a dip Sunday in the lagoon near the Grand Waikikian, said she wasn’t worried.
“I think the hype is it’s new and unknown,” she said. “We’re not going to let it ruin our beautiful vacation in Hawaii.”
Meanwhile, Americans on a cruise ship that was quarantined in Japan were on their way back to the U.S. Sunday where they will face another 14-day quarantine. At least a handful of Hawaii residents were on the ship, the Diamond Princess, including two residents, a man and woman, who contracted the coronavirus. The man was recovering at a Japanese hospital, while the woman’s condition was unknown.
Not all Americans were on the return flights. At least one said he declined to evacuate because the flight might be a hot spot for secondary infections.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.