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Experts are looking to more travel tests to contain COVID in Hawaii

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Honolulu-Hawaii officials are facing pressure to increase COVID-19 testing for travelers as the islands are addressing a record surge in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths. This call came when federal guidelines were changed to require negative virus testing from both vaccinated and unvaccinated people coming to the United States.

Earlier this summer, the state removed all testing requirements for vaccinated people.

Experts also say that even a single pre-flight test on unvaccinated travelers can easily slip through gaps for infected passengers.

Due to the incubation period and incubation period of COVID-19, using one test to prevent it from spreading to tens of thousands of visitors daily is similar to using a wire mesh fence to prevent mosquitoes. Dr. Darragh O’Carroll in an emergency said. Honolulu disaster doctor.

“There are many holes. Perhaps since June 2020, science has been fairly decisive, and a single test system was only 30-40% effective in capturing a population of infected people.”

A new federal regulation released on Monday requires all foreign travelers flying to the United States to prove vaccination evidence and proof that the COVID-19 test is negative before boarding. Unvaccinated American citizens must be tested before returning to the United States and within one day of returning to the United States.

He said Ocarol and many of his colleagues are urging state leaders to do the same.

“No matter what we say, no matter how decisive science looks, no one really seems to be listening,” he said.

Infection rates increased, but remained low compared to other states. Part of this is due to the severely crippled tourism industry and lack of participation in leisure travel. Others believe that if a visitor faces quarantine away from home, there is no incentive to test after arrival.

However, as the number of trips increased this summer, so did the infection rate.

In July, Hawaii lifted the quarantine and inspection requirements for vaccinated travelers. A month later, the state was on the verge of a record surge in delta variant cases that filled hospitals and killed more people than at any other time in the pandemic.

Prior to July, Hawaii reported an average of 46 cases in seven days. In the first week of September, that number reached nearly 900. Since then, case rates have begun to decline slowly, but experts say it’s unclear if that will continue.

Much of this was community expansion driven by delta variants introduced through travel.

Scientists say it may be helpful to carry out additional testing tools.

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet Infectious Diseases in March showed that a single preflight test reduced the risk to the entire population by only 36%. However, research shows that the two test systems combined with a short quarantine period have captured a much higher rate of over 70% of infected travelers.

Lee Altenberg, an adjunct professor of mathematics at the University of Hawaii, writes that the paper is “one of the few studies available to inform Hawaii policymakers.”

However, he said the study was misunderstood as evidence that Hawaii’s single test system was very effective in preventing spread. State officials said the study proved that their single testing system caught 88% of all infected travelers.

“The public was wrong about how much protection they got from SafeTravels’ pre-testing program. Without accurate information, we can’t make the right policies,” Altenberg said. Says.

“We must take the travel protocol absolutely seriously,” Altenberg added. “And if you’re working under the misconception that (Safe Travels) is preventing 90% of infections, I’m not going to take those protocols seriously.”

Altenberg submitted a contribution to the Lancet study last week.

The authors of the study said that the 88% figure represents the proportion of infectious people detected on the day of travel, rather than the overall reduction in risk to the destination population.

The difference between “infected” and “infected” is important, said one of the study’s co-authors.

Dr. Nathan Law, Department of Infectious Diseases, University of California, San Francisco, said: “And those people are not always detected.”

Governor David Ige did not respond to an interview request, but the state announced on Monday that it was offering one million free rapid inspections for regular inspections of Oahu residents.

Lieutenant Josh Green told The Associated Press that testing decisions would ultimately be up to the governor, but Hawaii’s single testing policy is more than any other state in the United States to keep the island safe. Said it was useful.

“If the mayor wants to do additional testing, I absolutely support it. Providing vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers with voluntary take-out antigen testing on arrival. May provide additional protection given the highly infectious nature of the delta variant. “

Mr Green said that only Alaska implemented a similar system between US states. Alaska is also working on a record surge in new infectious diseases and hospitalizations.

“We did more than anyone else. We did a better job than anyone else,” Green said.

Dr. Mathew Kiang, an epidemiologist and professor at Stanford University, was the lead author of the Lancet study. He is worried about the lack of regular travel tests and the so-called breakthrough infections for vaccinated people. According to experts, shots help reduce the severity of the disease, but infected people can spread it to others.

“There’s still a lot we don’t know about breakthrough infections, especially when it comes to asymptomatic spreads,” Kian said. time. “

“We can attract more visitors and revitalize the economy,” Kiang said with additional testing.

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