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Hawaii’s 1st case of coronavirus confirmed, Gov. David Ige announces

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Gov. David Ige confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 case at a news conference at the Department of Health this afternoon. The Hawaii resident traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship to Mexico in February, and fell ill after returning to Oahu.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Gov. David Ige confirmed the state’s first COVID-19 case at a news conference at the Department of Health this afternoon. The Hawaii resident traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship to Mexico in February, and fell ill after returning to Oahu.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                In this image from video, provided by the California National Guard, a helicopter carrying airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing flies over the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California Thursday. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered a cruise ship with 3,500 people aboard to stay back from the California coast Thursday until passengers and crew can be tested, after a traveler from its previous voyage died of the disease and at least two others became infected. Airmen lowered test kits onto the 951-foot Grand Princess by rope as the vessel lay at anchor off Northern California.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this image from video, provided by the California National Guard, a helicopter carrying airmen with the 129th Rescue Wing flies over the Grand Princess cruise ship off the coast of California Thursday. Scrambling to keep the coronavirus at bay, officials ordered a cruise ship with 3,500 people aboard to stay back from the California coast Thursday until passengers and crew can be tested, after a traveler from its previous voyage died of the disease and at least two others became infected. Airmen lowered test kits onto the 951-foot Grand Princess by rope as the vessel lay at anchor off Northern California.

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Hawaii Health Director Bruce Anderson speaks to reporters as Gov. David Ige, right, looks at the state Department of Health today. Ige announced that testing has confirmed Hawaii first case of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Hawaii Health Director Bruce Anderson speaks to reporters as Gov. David Ige, right, looks at the state Department of Health today. Ige announced that testing has confirmed Hawaii first case of the new coronavirus known as COVID-19.

UPDATE: 6:33 p.m.

A Hawaii resident who traveled on the Grand Princess cruise ship in February and returned to Oahu has tested positive for the coronavirus, the state’s first confirmed case of the disease, Gov David Ige announced today.

The patient was treated at Kaiser Permanente, which has placed two staff members and a physician in home quarantine for the next 14 days.

Hawaii health officials said the patient sought treatment after falling ill while on Oahu, and was tested postive for the virus today.

The patient did not have close contact with anyone after falling ill when back on Oahu, and is “doing fine” in self-quarantine at home, officials said. They did not reveal whether the individual lives with family.

“We don’t believe there has been any community spread (in Hawaii) at this time,” Gov. David Ige said at a news conference this afternoon.

The person traveled on the Grand Princess voyage from San Francisco to Mexico from Feb 11 to 21, and flew back to Hawaii from Mexico.

Health officials said they don’t know what airline the individual flew on, but that the person did not have symptoms at the time so there was “no risk” while traveling back to Oahu. They said they continue to investigate the details of the case.

After the Maui trip, the Grand Princess embarked on a voyage from San Francisco to Hawaii, with more than 50 passengers and crew members who had also been on the Mexico trip. The ship is now sitting off the coast of San Francisco with 21 confirmed cases of the virus, and has about four passengers from Hawaii, Health Director Bruce Anderson said.

Officials said the cruise ship made port calls at Nawiliwili, Kauai on Feb. 26, Honolulu on Feb. 27, Lahaina on Maui on Feb. 28, and Hilo on the Big Island on Feb. 29.

They were also checking the manifest of passengers who disembarked in Hawaii on the latest cruise to determine risk in the community.

“We still have a lot to learn about what happened and circumstances here,” said Anderson.

State officials were investigating who had close contact with those who tested positive on the Grand Princess.

The department said it’s working to identify who disembarked in Hawaii at each port and identify who had close contact with those individuals. Health officials said “close contact” is defined as close personal face-to-face contact for more than 10 minutes. Paying a bill at checkout would not be considered prolonged close contact, they said.

The Health Department, which has only tested eight people for COVID-19 in the islands, is planning broader community testing as early as next week.

“The focus is on those who are most sick,” Ige said. “We want to be able to have tests available for those who might need them the most.”

Some doctors are frustrated that more patients with respiratory illnesses not associated with the flu have been denied testing by the Health Department.

With the first case of coronavirus, the governor said Hawaii residents should “assess their situation.”

“Anyone that has kupuna they believe are at risk or has respiratory challenges certainly we would encourage them to be smart about it,” he said. “Avoid large events with large crowds.”

Anderson said the agency wants to begin survey tests of people who have respiratory illnesses to see if any of them might have a case of unrecognized COVID-19.

But he said testing people at risk of having been exposed to the virus will take priority. The state currently has the capacity to test up to 250 samples a week, and double that number in an emergency.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

Hawaii health officials are scrambling to find out who came into contact with the 21 people confirmed with the coronavirus after coming to the islands aboard a cruise ship last week.

The Grand Princess stopped on four of the main Hawaiian islands: Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island with more than 3,300 people: 2,200 passengers and 1,100 crew members, including 19 who have now tested positive for the coronavirus disease known as COVID-19.

“With each of these incidences the likelihood goes way up that some of our people will become infected,” Lt. Gov. Josh Green told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Health investigators will be searching for close contacts on all islands, he said.

At least 10 people on a previous Grand Princess cruise from San Francisco to Mexico from Feb. 11 to Feb. 21 contracted the virus, including an elderly man who became California’s first fatality. That same ship was later used for the Hawaii cruise that docked at Kauai’s Nawiliwili Harbor on Feb. 26; Honolulu on Feb. 27; Lahaina, Maui, on Friday; and Hilo on Saturday before departing the next day for San Francisco, its port of origin.

A crew member who fell ill on the Hawaii voyage was admitted to Hilo Medical Center but tested negative Tuesday for the virus, but another passenger was quarantined on the way back to San Francisco.

At a news conference Wednesday, state epidemiologist Sarah Park told reporters there was “no reason for us to track anyone” and “scare people unnecessarily.”

Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency Wednesday following the disclosure that the California man who had died was aboard the cruise ship to Mexico.

“I personally feel if cruise ships are going to continue they have to be empowered to test people on the cruise ships. They should take a very hard look at whether or not they should hit the pause button for 90 days,” Green said. “Because at this point not only have they been a vector for infection but also they run the risk of spreading infection and damaging their long-term reputation. Meanwhile, we have to deal with the recent problem.”

Separately, a Japanese couple were found to be infected with coronavirus after returning home from a trip to Hawaii from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7.

The Health Department is holding a 3 p.m. news conference.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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