Here’s what we know (and don’t know) about the Omicron mutation

The Health Department confirmed Hawaii’s first case of the Omicron variant Thursday.
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 3:56 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 4:14 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - While counties have eased COVID restrictions, health officials are urging caution as the state reported its first case of the Omicron variant on Thursday.

State Epidemiologist Dr. Sarah Kemble said the infected Oahu resident is under the age of 65 and had no history of travel outside the state.

As concern grows over the worrisome COVID mutation, here’s what you need to know about the Omicron variant and how to protect yourself and those around you.

What is the Omicron variant?

The Omicron variant was first detected in South Africa. The report of a new COVID strain raised alarms globally, resulting in many countries, including the United States, banning travel from South Africa and surrounding regions.

So far, the state Health Department said the mutation has been detected in at least 23 countries and at least two other states, including California and New York.

Health officials said there are still many unknowns about the the Omicron variant, but added they are watching it closely.

How concerned should people be about this new COVID mutation?

Kemble said the new mutation could potentially break through vaccine and natural protections, but said getting inoculated against the virus is still believed to be effective in preventing severe illness.

Furthermore, because the state said the case is a result of community transmission, it is likely there are more cases that have not yet been confirmed.

How can you protect yourself from the virus?

Health officials said vaccination is still the best way to protect yourself from COVID.

The state urges anyone age 5 and older to get vaccinated.

Any adults 18 and older who received their the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines at least six months ago or the Johnson and Johnson shot more than two months ago are also encouraged to get a booster shot.

Besides vaccination, health officials are also advising people to take extra precautions, including wearing masks, following social distancing and staying home when you are sick.

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