As the number of people infected by a new coronavirus rises globally, Hawaii state officials said the Aloha State has not yet had a confirmed case.
“We are alert, aware and we’re investigating and making sure we will protect Hawaii,” Hawaii State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said at a press conference Wednesday.
If a person is confirmed to have been infected, Department of Health officials say the public will be notified.
“If there’s a concern that a person that was out in the community and potentially exposed people, we’d contact all the individuals who may have been exposed,” Park said. “Our concern is always protecting the community and also the individual. There’s a lot of fear going on and we don’t want individuals to be fearful of coming forward as well because they fear their families might be targeted.”
By Wednesday, the number of confirmed cases in China neared 6,000 and the death toll reached 132. Most of the confirmed cases of the potentially fatal respiratory illness have been in China, where numerous cities have shut down outbound transportation.
No deaths have occurred outside of China.
Five cases among U.S. citizens have been confirmed to date, all of whom are recovering in isolation after traveling directly to and from China.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the only laboratory in the nation that can confirm a case.
State public health laboratories hope to have that testing capability, Park said, noting that the DOH website and CDC are the best sources of information as the situation evolves.
“Unless you hear it from the state or CDC it is probably a rumor,” Park said.
On Tuesday, federal health officials increased health “screenings” at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport by distributing informational Travel Health Notice fliers to people arriving from the Hubei Province of China.
In an interview with Civil Beat on Tuesday, a spokesperson with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarified it will be up to travelers to identify themselves if they have potential coronavirus symptoms when they arrive in Honolulu.
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