University of the Nations in Hawaii confirms 30 virus cases

KAILUA-KONA — COVID-19 testing will be conducted on hundreds of staff and students at a university in Hawaii following a recent outbreak.

West Hawaii Today reported Monday that officials at the University of the Nations Kona confirmed 30 cases associated with the Big Island campus had been identified as of Monday.

All of the people who were infected have been isolated, university spokesperson Johnny Gillespie said.

The positive cases included 22 people living at the Kailua-Kona campus, while eight were staff members living away from the campus.

Monday’s tally of positive cases was higher than the 26 cases reported Saturday, although the school reported no new cases Sunday and Monday. Gillespie attributed the difference to a “reporting discrepancy.”

The majority of the cases were due to community spread in Kona, while four were believed to be related to travel, the school said.

Up to 200 staff members were expected to take part in campus testing by the state Department of Health Tuesday. An estimated 300 students who have been in quarantine since arriving in late September are expected to be tested Thursday.

“We have a high degree of confidence that there really is minimal risk to the wider community,” Gillespie said. “We’ll know a lot more after that round of testing happens.”

The campus is operating at less than 40% capacity, which the school said is below guidelines for universities and colleges issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The University of the Nations is affiliated with Youth With A Mission, an international Christian movement, the school’s website said.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

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