Hawaii to get new coronavirus tests after receiving defective kits

HONOLULU — Hawaii is scheduled to receive updated kits from the federal government to test for a new virus after an initial shipment did not work as expected, officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent a notice informing states including Hawaii that kits distributed last week to test for the illness known as COVID-19 were defective, Hawaii Public Radio reported Tuesday.

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The state Department of Health sent samples taken in suspected cases to the CDC in Atlanta, delaying the results for a week or longer.

The kits were meant to speed results by allowing local testing for the viral illness that emerged last year in central China.

The latest update released this month by the state health department said there are still no confirmed cases of the virus in Hawaii.

States verify the accuracy of the test kits by using samples provided by the CDC showing either positive or negative results, state Epidemiologist Sarah Park said.

The CDC discovered a problem in the control samples it sent with the kits. Hawaii was advised to stop and wait for the CDC to send reformulated kits, Park said.

The tests are normally developed through a lengthy process and meet strict requirements of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Park said.

In the case of the new virus, the CDC was able to obtain an emergency-use authorization allowing unapproved medical products to be used to diagnose life-threatening conditions.

Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport is one of 14 in the nation accepting U.S. citizens traveling home from China. The returning passengers are monitored by the state health department.

As of Sunday, the state health department reported 53 people who visited China were self-monitoring and voluntarily staying at home. One Hawaii resident remained in quarantine at Pearl Harbor without symptoms after traveling in the province where the outbreak originated.

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The virus that has caught global attention has been commonly referred to as coronavirus. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which cause the common cold.

The CDC listed Hawaii among the states with high flu activity in recent surveillance reports. State health officials advised residents and visitors to take precautions against diseases like coronavirus and flu.

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