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No Hawaii residents found to have extended, close contact with Japanese couple infected with coronavirus

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A Japanese couple, who both had tested positive for the coronavirus upon their return to Japan, were on Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and on Oahu from Feb. 3 to 7 and stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare property.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A Japanese couple, who both had tested positive for the coronavirus upon their return to Japan, were on Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and on Oahu from Feb. 3 to 7 and stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare property.

State health officials have not found any Hawaii residents who came into “prolonged close contact” with a Japanese couple who visited the islands more than a week ago and was subsequently diagnosed with the deadly coronavirus.

“DOH is continuing to actively gather facts and interview individuals based on limited information about a husband and wife who traveled together from Japan to Hawaii and after returning home to Japan, tested positive for COVID-19,” said a news release issued Tuesday. The couple, in their 60s, were on Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and on Oahu from Feb. 3 to 7 and stayed at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshare property. “All persons identified are either low or no risk, and no one is required to be monitored under public health supervision related to this situation,” including casual contacts.

Health officials interviewed Ala Moana resident John Fujiwara after a brief home visit Feb. 4 from his friend Teruhito (Ted) Fujii, 65, who fit the profile of the man confirmed with the virus in Japan. Fujii and his wife live in Nagoya in Aichi prefecture, had the same travel itinerary and are Hilton Grand Vacations Club members.

The DOH would not confirm or deny that Fujii had contracted the disease, but told Fujiwara on Friday that they would be monitoring him daily to check for any symptoms. The next day, a DOH investigator told Fujiwara that he did not need to be monitored after all, but to contact the department if he developed any symptoms before Feb. 18, the 14-day incubation period for the virus. Fujiwara, who has no symptoms, said he has been in voluntary self-quarantine at home, checking his temperature twice a day, even though health officials told him it was unnecessary.

Health officials said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in the islands, but the state does not have the ability to test for the virus locally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is remaking new test kits after sending faulty ones to Hawaii.

“There’s been delays on the re-manufactured test kits being sent out by CDC. We haven’t been told an actual ship date by CDC, possible next week, but nothing for certain,” said DOH spokeswoman Janice Okubo.

Meanwhile, the flu, which has similar symptoms to the coronavirus, is on the rise across the state.

Since flu season started in October, 29.4 percent of 16,627 residents tested positive for the flu, according to the latest DOH influenza surveillance report from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1. An estimated 227 of the 3,831 deaths in Hawaii were related to pneumonia or influenza, statistics show.

DOH said it is “actively preparing” for possible cases of the coronavirus with state, county and federal agencies, including the CDC.

As of Tuesday, health officials were monitoring 42 people who recently traveled to China at home or in hotel rooms — down from 58 on Saturday. One man who was in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, is still under mandatory quarantine at the base on Pearl Harbor.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

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