So-called “Delta variant” of COVID-19, which was found in Hawaii, says DOH

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – Hawaii health officials reported the presence of the latest variant of COVID in the islands on Monday.

The DOH said routine genome sequencing surveillance carried out by the State Laboratories Division detected the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2 – also known as the Delta variant – in an Oahu individual.

Officials said the person was fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to traveling to Nevada in early May, at the time the variant was reported in that state.

When the person returned to Hawaii with a negative COVID test, DOH said the person had mild symptoms and later tested positive. This person has been quarantined along with their close contacts.

Officials said there was no evidence of household transmission or secondary cases were reported.

The Delta variant, which was first reported in India, now accounts for around 6% of all cases in the USA, according to health authorities.

“Early evidence suggests the Delta variant may spread faster than other SARS-CoV-2 strains,” said Edward Desmond, department head of the State Laboratories Division. “The Delta variant has been reported to produce a higher rate of serious illness than the original COVID-19, but we do not yet have enough evidence to support this conclusion.”

The variant is of concern to the CDC and the DOH is working with other states to learn more about it. And while vaccinations aren’t 100% effective in preventing transmission, officials are still encouraging the public to preserve their doses.

“The vaccines not only protect against infections, they also protect against serious diseases,” said State Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “Although this is one of those very rare breakthrough cases where the vaccine did not prevent infection, the infected person did not experience serious illness.”

Government laboratories continue their routine monitoring of genome sequencing.

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