DOH Press Release: Hawaii Department of Health Laboratory Detects Omicron Variant in Hawai’i
Posted on December 2, 2021 in Latest News, Press Room
HONOLULU – State Laboratories (SLD) Division of the Hawaii Department of Health Confirms that SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.1.529, also known as the Omicron variant, has been detected in the islands.
âIt’s not a reason to panic, but it’s a reason to worry. It’s a reminder that the pandemic is on. We need to protect ourselves by getting vaccinated, wearing masks, distancing ourselves as best we can and avoiding large crowds, âsaid health director Dr Elizabeth Char, FACEP.
On Monday, Diagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) identified a sample with a molecular index indicating that it could be Omicron. The state labs division performed accelerated whole genome sequencing and today determined that the sample is the Omicron variant.
The COVID-19 positive person is an O’ahu resident with moderate symptoms who had previously been infected with COVID-19, but was never vaccinated.
This is a case of community spread. The individual has no travel history.
The Omicron variant has been detected in at least 23 countries and at least two other states.
âThroughout the pandemic, the DOH State Laboratory has been a leader in performing genomic sequencing of COVID-19, which is how the Omicron variant was identified. Our surveillance system is working. This announcement reminds us to be extremely careful to protect ourselves and our loved ones, especially during the holiday season, âsaid Dr. Sarah Kemble, State Epidemiologist.
âDiagnostic Laboratory Services, Inc. (DLS) has worked closely with the Department of Health since the onset of the pandemic,â said Dr. Chris Whelen, vice president and technical director of microbiology and molecular diagnostics. âWhen we detected the dropout of the spike gene, which is a molecular clue that the virus could be the omicron variant, we immediately reported it to the DOH State Laboratories and sent the sample to them for sequencing. “
Anyone contacted by a DOH case investigator is urged to cooperate in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Anyone with symptoms is urged to get tested and avoid others. Unvaccinated people who come in close contact with people who are COVID-19 positive are advised to get tested.
Information on free tests and vaccines is available at https://hawaiicovid19.com/.
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