DOH: Wife Of Japanese Tourist With Coronavirus Falls Ill

Feb 16, 2020

The wife of a Japanese tourist who came down with coronavirus symptoms while on a Hawaii vacation has also fallen sick with the illness, the Hawaii health department confirmed Saturday.

The Japanese male tourist visited Maui from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3 and Oahu from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7. He began experiencing mild, flu-like symptoms on Feb. 3 and returned to Japan on Feb. 7. He was diagnosed with coronavirus on his return to Japan and hospitalized.

The state Department of Health was been advised that the wife of the tourist has also been hospitalized, spokeswoman Janice Okubo said by email. Okubo said she could not confirm the name, age or residence of the couple.

The male tourist stayed at the Hilton Grand Waikikian while on Oahu. It's not clear where he stayed on Maui. It was also not known which airlines he used to travel to and from Hawaii.

Hawaiian Airlines issued a statement on Friday saying the Japanese tourist flew from Maui to Oahu on flight HA265 on Feb. 3. Crew members and passengers who were on the flight were being contacted to "make sure they are healthy and supported," the airlines said.

The health department said as of Saturday no one in Hawaii has been identified as having had close contact with the infected tourist. Those who had casual contact with the man have been interviewed and are not required to be monitored under public health protocol, the department said.

In a related development, anxiety over the outbreak of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has spread to Honolulu's Chinatown.

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell holds up produce he purchased in Chinatown Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. The mayor urged residents and visitors to support Chinatown merchants following reports of a decline in business in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
Credit Mayor Kirk Caldwell/Facebook

During a press conference Saturday at Chinatown's Kekaulike Mall, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell encouraged residents and visitors to patronize merchants in the area.

"With our COVID-19 -- coronavirus -- we're hearing that business is slower here in Chinatown. We hear  business in Chinatowns around the country is slower -- because people somehow think you are at some kind of risk," he said. 

The mayor said one merchant he spoke with estimated his business during weekdays declined by about 30 percent. Merchants reported traffic was better on the weekends.

Victor Lim, a small business owner in Chinatown and a representative for the United Chinese Society of Hawaii, said he recently returned from San Francisco . He said phobia, misunderstanding and not knowing what is going on have caused apprehension in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu.

"Please do not change your lifestyle," Lim said. "Live a normal life and come and support Chinatown."

Dr. James Ireland, state Department of Transportation's aircraft, rescue and firefighting unit medical director, said Hawaii continues to have no known coronavirus cases and remains at low risk for an outbreak. 

One man who traveled to Hubei Province where the virus originated but who showed no symptoms remains in quarantine at Pearl Harbor, according to the health department. As of Saturday, 58 people were in self-quarantine and being monitored by the department.