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Hawaii postpones pre-travel testing following surge in COVID-19 cases

TORONTO — Due to a spike in COVID-19 cases, Hawaii will be delaying the start of its pre-travel testing program to Oct. 1.

The program, which was set to begin on Sept. 1, would allow all trans-Pacific travellers to forgo the 14-day mandatory quarantine providing they take a valid COVID-19 test within 72 hours of arrival and show proof of a negative test result.

Hawaii Island reported 23 new cases on Aug. 26 for a cumulative total of 243 since the start of the pandemic, while Maui saw an additional eight cases yesterday for a cumulative total of 311. Most of the newly reported cases are reported on Oahu with 245 on Aug. 26 for a cumulative total of 6,626. Hawaii’s COVID-19 death toll reached 51 yesterday, with the Department of Health reporting two additional deaths.

Yesterday marked the first day of ‘surge testing’ on Oahu where federal, state and county partners hope to test 5,000 people each day over the next 12 days.

Beginning Oct. 1, visitors looking to avoid the 14-day quarantine are required to get a valid COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to their trip and provide proof of a negative result as part of Hawaii’s Pre-Travel Testing Program. If they fail to meet the requirements, they will be placed in a mandatory 14-day quarantine until a negative test is received.

The FDA-approved Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT) must be from a certified Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment (CLIA) lab and will need to be done prior to arrival. No testing will be done upon arrival at the airport.

Hawaii Tourism Authority and Hawaii Tourism Canada are working to see how the Hawaii Department of Health can accept tests taken by Canadian provincial health authorities as valid for the pre-testing program. There are a select few private CLIA-certified laboratories in Canada where travellers can get an approved test.

According to Hawaii Governor David Ige, the state will monitor conditions in Hawaii as well as key markets on the Mainland USA to determine the appropriate start date for the program. The current Oct. 1 date remains fluid and subject to change.

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