HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The state Health Department says it has detected nine new cases of the Omicron mutation, which experts believe is even more transmissible than the Delta variant.
The new cases are in addition to three previously confirmed in Hawaii.
At least eight out of the 12 are fully vaccinated. Officials said the age ranges of those who tested positive are from 4 to 61.
State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said most of those with the variant have no known link to one another and few have any connection to travel.
“This indicates the Omicron variant is spreading deeper into our communities,” Kemble said. “There is some concern because of the many unknowns that we still have about them.”
In addition, officials say they’re investigating two more samples as possible Omicron cases.
The state Health Department said two of the suspected cases were among four linked to the Scarlet Honolulu nightclub on Pauahi Street. Those who visited the club on Dec. 3 are urged to get tested.
Scarlet does require vaccination for entry.
According to the New York Times, the Omicron variant has so far been detected in 26 states.
“We know it can spread far and wide,” said Dr. Melinda Ashton, with Hawaii Pacific Health. “We also know that so far, it appears that the infections that are happening in people are milder than what we’ve seen with Delta.”
But doctors are still waiting to confirm that. They’re also looking into how effective vaccines are against the variant.
“This is a concern that we may see an uptick in cases because of the capacity to transmit even among those who have some level of prior immunity,” said Kemble.
“We don’t have enough information about how it spreads in a population of people who’ve been vaccinated and boostered,” said Ashton.
“We just don’t know yet. So that’s the information we’re looking for over the next few weeks.”
This story will be updated.
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