The Hawaii Department of Health has detected 13 cases of the latest COVID-19 variant on Oahu, Maui, Kauai and Hawaii island – more than a week after it was first reported.
Nine cases were reported on Oahu, two on Maui, one on Kauai and one on Hawaii island.
The so-called Delta variant, formally called B.1.617.2, is more contagious and has a “higher rate of severe illness than other SARS-Cov-2 variants,” according to the DOH’s State Laboratories Division.
“The rapid spread of the Delta variant is troubling, but not surprising,” Edward Desmond, the division’s administrator, said Friday in a press release. “Cases of this particular strain of COVID-19 have doubled every two weeks in other jurisdictions so we expected it to move quickly after it was first detected on Oahu earlier this month.”
The first presence of the latest COVID-19 variant was reported on June 14.
Officials said last week that the person, who was fully vaccinated for COVID-19, traveled to Nevada in early May. The person returned to Hawaii with a negative COVID-19 test but experienced mild symptoms and later tested positive and was quarantined.
The Delta variant was first reported in India.
“We believe the nine cases most recently identified represent seven or eight separate introductions into the state,” said Sarah Kemble, the acting state Epidemiologist. “Unfortunately, we can expect case numbers to grow. People who are not vaccinated face a greater risk than those protected by vaccines.”
Hawaii has seen a decline in the overall number of COVID-19 cases. Friday saw 48 new cases reported, raising the total to 37,532, with 514 deaths.
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