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DOH reports two more omicron cases on Oahu

Officials warn of exposure to Hawaii residents who attended NYC anime convention

The Maui News

The state Department of Health on Monday reported two additional cases of the omicron variant on Oahu and warned of possible exposure to members of an Oahu church as well as Hawaii residents who attended a New York City anime convention.

DOH’s State Laboratories Division confirmed the two additional cases in two Oahu residents, neither of whom reported traveling outside of the state. Both were fully vaccinated and reported mild to moderate symptoms, with neither hospitalized. Possible links to the case confirmed last week are being investigated, the department said in a news release.

The division is also in the process of sequencing an additional eight COVID-19 specimens received since Friday with a “molecular clue” suggesting possible omicron variant. Enhanced molecular surveillance of Neighbor Island specimens is also ongoing this week to look for omicron, though no cases of the variant have been confirmed outside of Oahu.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also notified DOH that Hawaii residents were on the attendee list at a New York City anime convention associated with omicron variant cases reported in other states. The exact number of attendees has not yet been confirmed, but a dozen or more Hawaii residents may have attended the convention. DOH will be contacting attendees who have returned to Hawaii to assess for symptoms and to ensure access to testing.

DOH is also issuing guidance to members of Christ Embassy Hawaii in Waipahu because of the imminent health threat posed by the omicron variant, the news release said. Church and community members who attended events organized by Christ Embassy on or after Nov. 23 are being urged to get tested for COVID-19 and monitor for symptoms. While the church is headquartered in Waipahu, events related to the organization are held across Oahu, including a recent outreach event in Kalihi near the Mayor Wright Homes.

One person who tested positive for the omicron variant is believed to have attended Christ Embassy events, and DOH has reason to believe that there are several more positive cases associated with the church. Several members recently traveled to a country identified by the CDC as having a high risk for omicron variant cases.

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

Anyone who attended a Christ Embassy event and develops COVID-related symptoms should self-quarantine and seek medical consultation, said DOH, which added that it was continuing to attempt to make contact with Christ Embassy leadership.

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