COVID-19 Updates: Japan School Closures; California Patient Exposure Source Unknown

February 27, 2020, 2:31 PM HST · Updated February 27, 4:17 PM
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New Case in California

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed an infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 in California in a person who reportedly did not have relevant travel history or exposure to another known patient with COVID-19.  At this time, the patient’s exposure is unknown. This case brings the total number of COVID-19 cases in the United States to 15.

Japan School Closures

Japan has ordered all elementary, junior high and high schools nationwide to close from Monday through spring break, which typically ends in early April.

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Testing in Hawaiʻi

State officials say they have three components of the test kit in Hawaiʻi. There was a concern about one of the components, but the CDC has said the state’s laboratory can start the verification process now. The state could have testing capacity as early as next week.

Today, the CDC updated the definition of a Person Under Investigation (PUI) to account for travelers to other areas. CDC has posted updated Criteria to Guide Evaluation of PUI for COVID-19 online.

The DOH medical advisory issued yesterday also encourages clinicians to reach out to the health department to discuss testing if they have a patient hospitalized with severe respiratory illness and no identified source of exposure.

Hawaiʻi State Department of Health officials joined Governor David Ige today in providing the latest updates on COVID-19. During a live Facebook feed, officials fielded questions from viewers. Dr. Sarah Park, state’s Epidemiologist, chief, Disease Outbreak Control Division at the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and Danette Tomiyasu, deputy director for the Health Resources Administration at Hawaiʻi Department of Health were on hand to offer official information.

Hawaii State Department of Health officials and l will be providing the latest updates on COVID-19 and taking questions from viewers. Dr. Sarah Park, state’s Epidemiologist, chief, Disease Outbreak Control Division at the Hawaiʻi Department of Health Danette Tomiyasu, deputy director for the Health Resources Administration at Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

Posted by Governor David Ige on Thursday, February 27, 2020

State health officials are urging the public to prepare now for potential risks associated with COVID-19, also known as the Novel Coronavirus.

Business continuity preparedness

Should the situation escalate in Hawaiʻi, officials say state and county agencies are actively preparing for continuity of business operations to deal with the potential threat of COVID-19’s impact. In addition to prevention, the goal is to enable ongoing operations during a public health emergency.

National travel advisories

The US State Department has issued a Level 3 Travel Warning Avoid Non-essential Travel for South Korea.

The US State Department has issued a level 4 travel advisory asking people not to travel to China due to the COVID-19 outbreak. There is limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas. A level 2 travel advisory has been issued for Japan and advises people to exercise increased caution especially for older adults and those with medical conditions.

Before you travel, check out Travel Advisories and Alerts for your destination(s) at www.travel.state.gov/destination. The State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide specific advice to travelers on their websites.

Per the Department of Transportation, the Diamond Princess cruise ship is NOT coming to Hawaiʻi and has not made any requests to do so.

Prepare now for potential risks

The public health response is multi-layered, with the goal of detecting and minimizing COVID-19. While there are no cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaiʻi at this time, “state health officials do expect to eventually identify cases in Hawaiʻi because this is a global health threat to our entire nation,” according to an update provided by the state’s Joint Information Center.

“At this time, the imminent threat here in Hawaiʻi is low. Nevertheless, state and county agencies are intensifying their preparations,” officials said.

The Department of Health is advising people to take steps now to prepare should the risk of community spread increase.

Prepare a family plan should there be a COVID-19 outbreak in Hawaiʻi. A family plan worksheet can be downloaded here.

  • If you have a large family in one home, consider what measures you can take to prevent the spread of illness. Click here for the CDC’s comprehensive list of specific measures.
  • Prepare a kit similar to those used during hurricane seasons. These should include a 14 day supply of food, water and other necessities.

Set aside an emergency supply of any needed medication and keep a copy of your prescriptions in case you run out of medication. The DOH recommends a three-month supply.

  • Don’t forget supplies for your pets.

No cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaiʻi at this time

Currently, there are no cases of COVID-19 identified in Hawaiʻi. DOH is actively preparing for possible cases and working with state, county, and federal partners including the medical community in Hawaiʻi. The following summary as of Feb. 27 shows the number of individuals being monitored or under quarantine because of their recent travel to China. These individuals were identified through screening by federal officials at the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. These numbers fluctuate often as travelers arrive, depart, or begin and end their self-monitoring with supervision by DOH.

COVID-19 Summary of Numbers as of Feb. 27, 2020

Number of Confirmed Case(s)  0
Number of Persons Under Investigation (current, testing pending)  0
Number of Persons Under Investigation (closed, testing negative)  0
Number of Persons Under Quarantine  0
Number of Persons Self-Monitoring with DOH supervision80

Of the 80 individuals who are self-monitoring with public health supervision, 73 are on Oʻahu, 5 are on Hawaiʻi Island, 1 is on Maui, and 1 is on Kauaʻi.

  • Confirmed: Meets CDC criteria and positive test result received from a certified laboratory.
  • Person Under Investigation (PUI): Meets CDC criteria for investigation and testing pending.
  • Quarantine: Individuals are required to remain in a designated location and separated from others. They are actively monitored by Department of Health staff. Quarantine is enforceable by law.
  • Monitoring: Individuals voluntarily remain at home and refrain from work, school, gathering places, and public transit. They communicate daily with Department of Health staff.

Preventing the spread of misinformation and disease

The Department of Health is committed to sharing information as it becomes available. People are urged not to spread misinformation or inaccurate statements that are not confirmed, and keep updated and informed on the situation.

Everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness with these everyday actions.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Screening of arriving passengers at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu

Foreign nationals who have been in mainland China within the last 14 days are being denied entry into the US. This includes not only people with a China passport, but all foreign nationals per Department of Homeland Security guidance. The exception is US citizens, legal permanent US residents or their immediate family.

Enhanced screening procedures are in place at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to help keep the public and traveling community safe. An additional feature is the non-contact thermal temperature scanners that are used for incoming passengers from China. Airport passenger screening continues to be conducted by federal authorities from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

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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