HONOLULU(KHON2)–The CDC said the threat to Hawaii remains at a low alert level even after the first case of a new coronavirus surfaced in the US in Washington state.
The spread of the coronavirus, first detected in December out of Wuhan, China, continues.
Seventeen have died and hundreds have already contracted the disease worldwide.
“The only individuals we have from China are coming from Shanghai and we of course are monitoring those flights very carefully,” Bruce Anderson, Hawaii Department of Health director said.
The CDC is funneling all flights coming from Wuhan, China to five airports in the US–Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta and Chicago– to prevent it from spreading.
The CDC and DOT said Hawaii wasn’t chosen for special screening because the threat for the state is very low. The CDC always monitors all international and domestics travelers and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is one of only 20 airports in the US the CDC constantly monitors.
Even though they’re monitoring airports, it doesn’t guarantee they’ll catch every case.
“While the screening may catch those who are actively ill, it won’t catch those people who may be still incubating the virus,” Dr. Sarah Park, Hawaii State Epidemiologist, said.
Anderson said the incubation period could be between two days and two weeks and that local doctors have been notified and know what to look for.
Dr. Robert Ruggieri, Medical Director for Island Urgent Care, said that if anyone has traveled to China in the last 14 days they would be looked at more thoroughly if they come in with flu-like symptoms.
Ruggieri said that anyone is susceptible to the virus but people with compromised immune systems, the elderly and the very young are most at risk.
‘The symptoms of the coronavirus, are like many viruses. You can have fever, runny noes, body aches, headache, cough, sore throat all kinds of things like that. But what the CDC is concerned about, the World Health Organization, is that it’s causing a severe pneumonia in some cases. So in that case the individual may start with what may seem like a cold but they would develop fever, shortness of breath, and a productive cough,” Ruggieri explained.
Ruggieri confirmed that the coronavirus is passed from person to person so it’s important to wash your hands, avoid touching your face and avoid being around anyone who is sick. He also warned that you can get it from someone nearby who is infected if they sneeze or cough.
“If somebody coughs within six feet or more when they’re sick, and you are near them, you can catch that illness. You can catch it through the air, through the aerosol transmission,” Ruggieri explained.
He said that if you or anyone you know thinks you might have been exposed to someone with this virus, you should contact your health care provider immediately.