HONOLULU (KHON2) — Maui Mayor Michael Victorino is planning to make all transpacific travelers take a post-arrival COVID-19 test due to the uptick in cases on Maui.
Mayor Victorino is beefing up Maui County travel requirements.
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“This change will have an effect for the public that travels from the mainland directly here to Maui,” Victorino explained. “Participants in the Safe Travels Program will be subject to a rapid COVID-19 test upon arrival at Kahului Airport.”
He said the post-test is mandatory and Maui County will cover the cost.
Anyone who declines or tests positive must quarantine for 10 days, even if they took the pre-test 72 hours prior to departure.
Maui Disctrict Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang said, the Safe Travels program is not fool-proof
“Too many infected people who come in, it’s not picking them up,” Pang said. “They’re negative at the time they get the pre-travel test, but they are incubating and bringing it in.”
Pang said, it is spreading throughout the community from there. Opinions differ on how many infected people are getting through.
“In our published study, it looks like it’s seven out of 1000 people. Some other people feel it’s a lot less. Some people actually said it’s a lot more,” Pang said.
Just having the program in place helps, according to Pang.
“Just having a test after arrival changes qualitatively, the kind of people who visit your island,” Pang said.
“Suppose you do a Safe Travel pretest, and a person gets sick between the time of test three days before coming in coming. Or he has a lot of exposure to known cases or just a lot of contact, he can still come in sick or not. Because he’s got that negative pre-travel test,” explained Pang. ” These kind of folks come in. But if they know they’re going to get some tests on arrival, or after arriving, they won’t come because if they’re positive, it will really change their travel plans.”
Victorino hopes to launch the program by late April, 2021.
“We are in the process of procuring a company to administer these rapid tests. So, it’s going to take us maybe 10 working days to get all of this together,” Victorino explained.
Kauai County had required a post arrival test but ended the program Sunday, April 4.
Hawaii County is continuing its post-testing program, but as of Thursday, April 1, travelers are now randomly selected.
According to Hawaii County Communications Director Cyrus Johnasen, 163,111 people were tested and between 160-170 people tested positive between November 2020 and mid-March 2021.
“It is a very small percentage of travelers,” Johnasen said. “However, out of the 160 to 170 cases that we caught at the airport could have proliferated into many more especially if those individuals didn’t realize they were positive and were out in our grocery stores or at our beach parks utilizing facilities and the hotels.”
Johnasen said, it is worth it to keep everyone on Hawaii Island safe.