Hawaii expands coronavirus pre-travel testing to South Korea

HONOLULU (AP) — Travelers from South Korea can soon bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 10-day quarantine by producing a negative COVID-19 test from a trusted screening partner in their home country.

Democratic Gov. David Ige announced the Safe Travels Hawaii pre-travel testing program will be extended to South Korean travelers starting on Feb. 5.

Tests must be taken within 72 hours of flight departure from South Korea.

“The pre-travel testing program is just one layer of the state’s comprehensive Safe Travels Hawaii program, which has served us well in protecting our residents and visitors,” Ige said. “We are excited to safely welcome back travelers from Korea.”

The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Honolulu welcomed the program extension, saying the update will contribute to exchanges between the country and Hawaii while taking necessary safety measures against the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now requires all travelers arriving from foreign nations to show proof of negative COVID-19 tests or documentation proving recovery from the virus.

Only tests from designated trusted testing partners will be accepted from international travelers arriving in Hawaii to bypass the quarantine requirement.

The COVID-19 Nucleic Acid Amplification Test conducted by a laboratory authorized by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency was approved for the pre-travel test.

“We look forward to welcoming our friends and family traveling from Korea and appreciate everyone’s efforts to travel safely with a pre-test,” Hawaii Democratic Lt. Gov. Josh Green said.

For most people, the 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.