Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Seeks Suspension of Flights from Japan & South Korea to Prevent COVID-19 Spread

February 26, 2020, 5:27 PM HST · Updated February 28, 11:25 AM
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is calling for the suspension of flights from Japan and South Korea to prevent the spread of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement:

“The first responsibility of our leaders should be to protect the health, safety, and security of the people of Hawai‘i and our country. This is why we’ve temporarily suspended flights from China, which has been very helpful. But, more is needed in order to protect the people of Hawai‘i.

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“In order to protect the people of Hawai‘i, we must now suspend flights from Japan and South Korea where the virus has been spreading. It is irresponsible for our leaders to endanger the health and wellbeing of Hawai‘i’s people by continuing to allow travel from Japan and South Korea. I know there will be economic hardship, but it will pale in comparison to the cost in lives and economic damage to Hawai‘i and our country if we don’t suspend travel from these countries. Unfortunately, our leaders are depending upon the same procedures they used with the SARS epidemic — but that will not be sufficient. Because the coronavirus spreads much more easily than SARS. Once it enters Hawai‘i, it will spread like wildfire and then it will be too late.

“This suspension should last until tests are readily available either in the country of departure or for passengers that are arriving in the United States. The tests need to be done on the spot, preferably before they get on the plane. If they are cleared by the test, then they can come. If not, then they get turned back.

“There is a high likelihood that such tests will be available within 30 days — possibly a little sooner, possibly a little later. The way that it is being done now is extremely unscientific and unreliable because patients can be asymptomatic yet still carry the disease and be contagious.

“We need to take action now to protect the people of Hawai‘i and our nation.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee.

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. A novel coronavirus virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China in 2019. PC: Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM. Content provider: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS

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