With Honolulu becoming one of the main screening ports of entry for the coronavirus, health officials are implementing stricter measures.
Officials point out that screening could start even before passengers get off the airplane. That’s if they’re already showing flu-like symptoms.
“If someone was ill on a plane, the flight crew is required to call ahead and so the CDC is notified, the airport paramedic is notified, firefighters are notified and will respond to the plane appropriately,” said Dr. James Ireland, Hawaii Dept. Of Transportation Medical Director.
Passengers with the symptoms will be swabbed and those samples will be sent to the CDC to test for the coronavirus.The Hawaii Department of Health says results could take 24 to 48 hours, so the passenger will be in quarantine while results are pending. DOH also announced Monday that the quarantine facility will be at Pearl Harbor.
The CDC has also required Customs and Border Protection agents to ask specific questions to passengers arriving on international flights.
“Where were you, who did you come in contact with? And determining then whether or not these people meet the definition for the new rules for quarantine,” said Dr. Ireland.
Anyone that’s been to the Wuhan province will have to be in quarantine for 14 days. Those who have been to other parts of China and have no symptoms can still continue to their destination, but the CDC will notify the state where the passengers are headed so they can be monitored. As for Hawaii residents who are showing symptoms?
“We will engage in active monitoring with these individuals, which means we will do daily checks with them and to make sure they stay in home quarantine,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist.
She adds that those who have contact with infected passengers at airports or even on the plane are not considered high risk. She says you need to be in close contact, meaning in constant exposure.
“You are taking care of that person, you are in the household where you are providing that care, you’re being exposed to the respiratory droplets that can then land potentially in your mouth, your nose, your eyes,” said Dr. Park.
Health officials also point out that the CDC is making changes on dealing with this virus practically everyday, so the state will likely have more changes ahead.