(Hawaii KITV4) – Governor David Ige has just confirmed the first case of coronavirus in Hawaii.
The man infected was on the Grand Princess Cruise that made stops in the islands. The cruise ship made port calls to Nawiliwili on February 26, Honolulu on February 27, Lahaina on February 28, and Hilo on February 29.
The man who tested positive for COVID-19 is an O’ahu resident, according to DOH officials.
DOH authorities are ensuring the public that the infected individual did not have close contact with anyone here on the island.
There is no evidence at this time that there is a virus circulating in the community.
A total of eight tests have been done and the state has the capacity to conduct 250-500 tests per week.
It’s not looking like people who are symptomatic are transmitting to others, according to DOH officials.
“One thing I can guarantee is things will change very rapidly,” said Bruce Anderson, DOH Director of Health.
Governor Ige emphasizes that the state of Hawaii has no authority to ban cruise ships from docking in Honolulu, which is why the Grand Princess Cruise made a stop on the island.
When officials were questioned about why more people weren’t tested for COVID-19 Governor Ige emphasized that they are using their laboratory resources to test the most critically-ill first.
“It’s not a good use of our resources,” Governor Ige said.
An official from the Department of Health says they are working very hard to ensure a quick 24-hour turnaround of results from testing.
In total so far, 21 people tested positive for COVID-19 on the cruise ship.
Princess Cruises said 45 of the more than 3,500 people on board were tested in the first round. A military helicopter crew lowered test kits onto the 951-foot (290-meter) Grand Princess by rope Thursday and later retrieved them for analysis as the vessel waited off San Francisco, under orders to keep its distance from shore.
Health officials trying to establish whether the virus is circulating on the Grand Princess undertook the testing after reporting that a passenger on a previous voyage of the ship, in February, died of the disease.
In the past few days, health authorities disclosed that at least nine other people who were on the same journey were also found to be infected. And some passengers on that trip stayed aboard for the current voyage.
“The ship will not come on shore until we appropriately assess the passengers,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.
The Hawaii Department of Health is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify and trace close contacts of those who tested positive for COVID-19. Work continues with CDC to determine who disembarked at each port, identify close contacts and follow up to interview and conduct surveillance.
In anticipation of possible cases, DOH had already received manifests from the ship through CDC prior to th confirmation.
A close contact is defined as close personal face-to-face contact for more than 10 minutes. For example, paying a bill at checkout is not considered prolonged close contact.
The CDC still considers this low risk to the general public. (KITV WEB STAFF)