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Omicron variant detected in wastewater

LIHU‘E — The state Department of Health recently added testing wastewater samples on Kaua‘i to its various methods of monitoring variants, state DOH Kaua‘i District Health Office Deputy Director Lauren Guest said Monday.

And while a subvariant known as omicron BA.2 has not been detected in a human case on Kaua‘i, it has been detected in the wastewater, Guest said.

”That means that the BA.2 sub-variant is already here on Kaua‘i,” she said during the county’s weekly COVID-19 update brief. “It has been detected in all Hawai‘i counties and many places on the mainland.”

The state DOH first confirmed BA.2 omicron variant back in January.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labeled BA.2 a “variant of concern,” meaning there is evidence to show of increased transmissibility and disease severity. Omicron variant BA.2 is reportedly linked to virus spikes in Europe and Asia.

“The Hawai‘i Department of Health is closely following trends in BA.2,” Guest said. “It is not known yet how the variant may affect case rates or hospitalizations in our community. As with prior variants, there are things we can all do to minimize risk and spread of disease: wear masks as recommended in crowded, indoor or poorly ventilated places; stay home when you are sick; and get tested or take a home test if you have symptoms or have been exposed.”

As of Monday, the county’s seven-day case average is seven, Guest said. The county has a test-positivity rate of 2.4%. There are currently 31 active cases, with one hospitalization.

Next week, the county, in partnership with the DOH, will distribute another round of 15,000 at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of five per family.

Tests will be passed out:

• Monday, March 28, Kekaha Neighborhood Center, 9 a.m. to noon; and Waimea Neighborhood Center, 1 to 4 p.m.;

• Tuesday, March 29, Hanalei Neighborhood Center, 9 a.m. to noon; and Kilauea Neighborhood Center, 1 to 4 p.m.;

• Wednesday, March 30, Hanapepe Recreation Center, 9 a.m. to noon; and Kalaheo Neighborhood Center, 1 to 4 p.m. ;

• Thursday, March 31, Anahola Clubhouse, 9 a.m. to noon; and Kapa‘a Neighborhood Center, 1 to 4 p.m.;

• Friday, April 1, Koloa Neighborhood Center, 9 a.m. to noon; and Lihu‘e Neighborhood Center, 1 to 4 p.m.

The Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall testing center in Lihu‘e is open weekdays except county holidays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is closed weekends and holidays. It will be closed on Friday, March 25, in observation of Prince Kuhio Day.

The mobile testing van is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in a different community each day: Wednesdays at Kekaha Neighborhood Center, Thursdays at Kilauea Neighborhood Center, Fridays at Kalaheo Neighborhood Center (closed this Friday, March 25 for Prince Kuhio Day), Saturdays at Hanalei Neighborhood Center, and Sundays in Kapa‘a at the Bryan J. Baptiste Sports Complex.

For a full list of testing sites, visit kauai.gov/covidtest.

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Sabrina Bodon, editor, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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