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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:49 a.m., Wednesday, May 21, 2003

State says man from Shanghai SARS-free

By Robbie Dingeman
and Mike Gordon
Advertiser Staff Writers

State health officials said yesterday that the only person in Hawai'i suspected of having SARS has tested negative for the virus in preliminary tests, has recovered from whatever illness he had and is no longer in voluntary isolation.

If those results are confirmed, it would mean there are no suspected SARS cases in the state.

State Health Department spokeswoman Laura Lott said the man who moved to Hawai'i from Shanghai last month has been staying with relatives and voluntarily remained isolated at a private home in Honolulu because he showed symptoms consistent with severe acute respiratory syndrome upon arrival.

"He has fully recovered and he plans to remain in Hawai'i," Lott said. "He was symptom-free from April 30 and none of his family members became ill."

The man arrived from Shanghai the night of April 22. He had fever and respiratory illness and had been exposed to an area of SARS transmission.

SARS is believed to have originated in China and spread to cause significant outbreaks in Hong Kong, Singapore, Toronto and Hanoi, Vietnam. As of this morning, the World Health Organization tallied 7,956 cases, with 666 deaths.

The man in Honolulu was asked to remain isolated for 10 more days after he recovered. State officials said the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still counts Hawai'i as having two probable cases awaiting additional testing.

The other suspected case is a man who serves with the Merchant Marines but lists his home address as Hawai'i. He has not been in the state since he became ill.

State health officials said the man who moved here from Shanghai was helpful and cooperative and remained at home three days after he was cleared for release from his voluntary isolation.

Lott said the department is awaiting results of another confirmatory test. The samples went to CDC in Atlanta on May 15, and test results usually take one to two weeks.

"I think we've been lucky," she said. "People need to be happy that nobody is sick and we are doing OK, but we still have to be vigilant. I don't think SARS is going to disappear overnight."