Japanese man diagnosed with coronavirus after his visit to Hawaii
Hawaii officials were notified about the case on Friday, and state authorities in turn alerted local health providers to be on the lookout for coronavirus-like illnesses.
A visitor who exhibited “cold-like symptoms” while on the Hawaiian island of Oahu the islands earlier this month was diagnosed with coronavirus after returning to his home country Japan. Hawaii health authorities have now began a search for anyone who may have had close contact with the Japanese tourist.
The case came to public attention at a Honolulu news conference by Governor David Ige and senior state health officials, who said the man in question is believed to have become infected in Japan before embarking on his trip, or while en route to Hawaii, Reuters reported.
That assumption is based on the 14-day incubation period of the virus, and the fact that the man became symptomatic after less than a week in Hawaii, the state health officials said.
The patient and his wife visited the island of Maui from January 28 to February 3, then traveled to Oahu, where they stayed until flying on February 7 back to their home in the Aichi Prefecture of central Japan.
The man had exhibited no sign of illness until reaching Oahu, where he first developed cold-like respiratory symptoms but no fever, the state's health direct, said Dr Bruce Anderson.
Once back in Japan, he became more seriously ill and was tested for the coronavirus after going to a hospital, Anderson said.
Hawaii officials were notified through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Friday, and state authorities in turn alerted local health providers to be on the lookout for coronavirus-like illnesses.
The greatest immediate focus is to identify and track down individuals who had "prolonged, face-to-face contacts" with the Japanese man after he began showing symptoms on Oahu, said Dr Sarah Park, the state's chief epidemiologist.
State health officials said they were consulting Japanese authorities to get more details of the man’s Hawaii visit.
Hawaii, the US Pacific island state closest to the origin of the coronavirus outbreak, has seen no infections documented on its soil, while the number of US cases confirmed nationwide stands at 15, none fatal. Eight cases are in California.
The worldwide total now exceeds 66,000 cases, with more than 1,500 deaths, most of them in China's Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.
Beyond China, nearly 450 cases have been tallied in some 24 countries and territories, and three deaths. Japan is among the nations hardest, with 251 confirmed cases, most of them on a cruise liner quarantined in a port.
Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death on Thursday.