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Hawaii health officials find 2 more omicron infections; investigate 8 additional possible cases

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                                Hawaii Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble.


    Hawaii Department of Health State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble.

State health officials report two additional confirmed omicron variant COVID-19 cases and several possible points of exposure in Hawaii.

In a news release this evening. the Hawaii Department of Health said its State Laboratories Division confirmed two additional omicron cases in Oahu residents.

Neither of these cases reported travel outside of the state and both confirmed they were fully vaccinated, reported mild-to-moderate symptoms, and did not have to be hospitalized.

Officials said they are investigating possible links to the first Hawaii omicron case that was confirmed last week.

“It is imperative that all Hawaii residents work together to limit the spread of the omicron variant,” State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said in the release. “These additional cases and points of exposure show that omicron is in our community, and the best thing we can do is to get vaccinated, continue to wear a mask, and get tested if you feel ill or had contact with a COVID-19 positive individual.”

The Laboratories Division is also sequencing an additional eight COVID-19 specimens received since Friday with a “molecular clue” suggesting possible omicron variant, and is “performing enhanced molecular surveillance” of neighbor island specimens this week to look for omicron, officials said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the department that Hawaii residents were on the attendee list at a New York City anime convention associated with omicron variant cases reported in other states. A dozen or more Hawaii residents may have attended the convention, officials said.

They said DOH will be contacting convention attendees who have returned to Hawaii “to assess for symptoms and to ensure access to testing.”

Department officials also said members of Christ Embassy Hawai‘i church on Oahu have been told about the imminent health threat posed by the variant.

Church members and anyone who attended church events on or after Nov. 23 are being urged to test for COVID-19. Officials said the church is headquartered in Waipahu, but held events across Oahu, including a recent outreach event in Kalihi near the Mayor Wright Homes.

“DOH only discloses case locations when there is an imminent risk to public health. Based on the findings of our investigation, we believe disclosure is warranted to prevent further transmission of the Omicron variant,” Kemble said.

One person who tested positive for omicron is believed to have attended Christ Embassy events and DOH said it has reason to believe that there are several more positive cases associated with the church.

Several members of Christ Embassy church recently traveled to a country identified by the CDC as having a high risk for Omicron variant cases. The Health Department did not identify the country.

Besides being tested, anyone who attended Christ Embassy events since Nov. 23 should also closely monitor themselves for symptoms including fever, cough, runny nose, sore throat or loss of taste or smell, officials said.

If symptoms develop, they are advised to self-quarantine and seek medical consultation, for more on symptoms: Health officials say they continue to attempt to make contact with Christ Embassy leadership.

They ask the public who are contacted by the department to assist the contact tracers to prevent spread of COVID-19.

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