Delta Air Lines and Hawaii health officials are scrambling to alert people who may have come into contact with a Japanese couple who tested positive for the novel coronavirus after visiting the state. There are concerns that fellow passengers could have contracted the virus during the couple’s flight home to Japan on February 6.
On Friday, eight days after the couple left the islands, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told state health authorities that the man tested positive for the virus, known as COVID-19. A day later, his partner tested positive, The Japan Times reported.
The man began displaying signs of the coronavirus while traveling in Oahu from February 3 to 6. According to the CDC, people can display symptoms of COVID-19 between two and 14 days after exposure, which means the man could have contracted the virus before arriving in Hawaii. It is unclear when the woman began displaying signs of illness.
Delta is contacting all the passengers who flew with the couple on Delta Air Lines Flight 611, a 10-hour journey from Honolulu to Nagoya, Japan. The airliner departed in the afternoon on February 6 and landed in Nagoya on the evening of February 7 after crossing the International Date Line.
“The health and safety of our customers and crews is our top priority,” a Delta spokeswoman told Business Insider. “In cooperation with Japanese health officials, we are proactively reaching out to customers who were on board that flight, as well as taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of our customers and crew.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the spokeswoman said she didn’t have an update and declined to clarify when the company started notifying passengers.
The couple was in Hawaii from January 28 to February 6
The man and woman, both in their 60s, were in Maui from January 28 to February 3 and then in Oahu until their February 6 flight home. Authorities are investigating whether the couple had close interaction with anyone during their visit.
So far, they have found one person who spent time with the couple, according to Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green.
That man “is in two weeks of home isolation now,” Green told KHON, a CNN local news affiliate.
Authorities know details of when and where the man contracted the virus only. For now, there is no information on when and where the woman became ill, according to CNN.
The man had no symptoms while visiting Maui and then developed coldlike symptoms on Oahu but had no fever. During the latter half of their trip, the couple stayed at a timeshare at the Grand Waikikian by Hilton Grand Vacations in Honolulu.
“It’s very likely the [man] was exposed in Japan [before he traveled to Hawaii] or in transit coming to Hawaii and became sick when he was here,” Bruce Anderson, the director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, said at a press conference on Friday.
According to state epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Park, the man did not seek medical attention until getting to Japan, where his symptoms worsened, CNN reported. “Our focus is about his whereabouts while he was on Oahu because that’s when he developed symptoms,” she said at the press conference.
As they flew to Japan, the man wore a mask, and he may have also worn one on other parts of the trip.