Following the news of a coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, Maryknoll School has canceled activities it had planned as part of a long-standing exchange program with the Chinese city.
Two students and two teachers arrived in Honolulu from Wuhan #1 Senior High School on Friday, Maryknoll Director of Marketing and Communications Keenan Kurihara told Civil Beat Thursday.
Because they did not exhibit any symptoms within three days, the state Department of Health told Maryknoll school officials there was no cause for concern, he said.
“They have to be in good health to travel here so their health was not a concern when they left,” Kurihara said. “They haven’t had any symptoms and they’ve been feeling fine since their arrival.”
Maryknoll School sent an email to parents late Wednesday evening to notify them that the school canceled remaining activities for the exchange students. The group is scheduled to depart to Wuhan on Monday.
The coronavirus may cause pneumonia, coughing, fever and respiratory issues. Coronaviruses usually originate in animal hosts. There have been other coronavirus outbreaks, the most recent of which involved SARS and MERS. This latest coronavirus has never been encountered before.
As of Thursday, there were 517 cases and 17 deaths. Most of those who have fallen ill worked or frequented a seafood wholesale market in Wuhan.
Chinese officials announced plans to temporarily halt all outbound public transportation from Wuhan starting Thursday morning to prevent the transmission of the virus.
Maryknoll’s visitors should be able to return home to Wuhan without any problems.
“They’re actually very understanding of the current situation,” Kurihara added, noting the annual exchange program has run for seven years. “We empathize with what they’re going through. As of this time the high school that our exchange students and teachers are from don’t have any cases of the coronavirus within their campus or communities.”
In an email to Civil Beat Thursday, DOH said it “is working with the school and has confirmed there is no risk of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus from the international visitors.”
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