LIHU‘E — A case of the Delta variant has been detected on Kaua‘i in an unvaccinated individual. This marks the detection of the Delta variant on all major counties in Hawai‘i.
The variant, which is more transmissible than the original strain and results in a higher rate of severe illness than other variants, was first discovered in Hawai‘i earlier this month.
“Each time we’ve detected a new variant in our state. I think all of us feel a surge of concern and maybe anxiety,” Kaua‘i District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman said Friday. “The Delta variant is actually one that is even more concerning, although for similar reasons than some of the other variants.”
Out of a 45-batch of community samples, nine were the Delta variant. One of the nine cases was a possible vaccine breakthrough, State Laboratories Division Administrator Dr. Edward Desmond said Friday.
“We believe the nine cases most recently identified represent seven or eight separate introductions into the state,” Dr. Sarah Kemble, the acting State Epidemiologist, said in a press release. “Unfortunately, we can expect case numbers to grow. People who are not vaccinated face a greater risk than those protected by vaccines.”
Almost all COVID-19 cases on Kaua‘i, Berreman said, have been directly or indirectly related to travel.
“The only way for the virus to get to our state or new viruses to get to our state is by travel, either by returning residents or by visitors,” Berreman said. “Then, once it’s here, especially with this very highly transmissible Delta variant, then it can spread within our community without any additional travel.”
Berreman said that the current pre-travel testing that the state has implemented is not a sure-fire way to ensure the virus does not come into the state.
“We know that a single test three days before you travel here is not a not 100% guarantee that you won’t bring disease into the island because the disease has an incubation period of two to 14 days,” Berreman said. “So if you’re tested three days before you travel, and you get exposed after that your tests will be negative, but you can still be exposed before you travel here on vacation or come home here if you’ve been away on vacation and introduce disease into our state.”
The Delta variant has been linked to resurgences of COVID-19 spikes globally and is listed as one of four “variants of concern” by health agencies.
Berreman said that while there was a possible vaccine breakthrough, the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617.2 Delta variant can be slowed with vaccinations.
“We have really good news about this variant, which is that even though it’s probably the most concerning one we’ve detected, it is still very much prevented by the available vaccinations,” Berreman said. “We know none of our vaccines are 100%, but people who are fully vaccinated, are much less likely to become sick with any of the variants, including the Delta variant.”
Source: The Garden Island