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Omicron subvariant BA.2 found in Hawaiʻi

Associated Press
In this March 3, 2020, file photo, Hawaiʻi Department of Health microbiologist Mark Nagata demonstrates the process for testing a sample for coronavirus at the department's laboratory in Pearl City, Hawaiʻi.

The omicron subvariant BA.2 has been detected in Hawaii.

That’s according to the state Department of Health, which released its latest coronavirus variant report.

Out of about 200 samples, the state identified at least eight cases of the new sub-variant in cases from Jan. 2 to Jan. 15.

“One of the reasons that we're concerned about it is that in some places, including Denmark and in Kolkata, when BA.1 and BA.2 are both present together, the BA.2 has expanded and become the dominant strain — and there's a possibility that might happen here," said Dr. Edward Desmond, the state laboratories division administrator.

"So that suggests that there's something more infectious about the BA.2 strain. And because it's so new, there's a lot of things that we don't know about it. We're not really sure if it causes more serious disease, and there seems to be no indication in Denmark that it causes more serious disease.”

The health department was unable to confirm which island BA.2 was detected. But Desmond said the results came from Diagnostic Laboratory Services, which does most of its testing on Oʻahu.

The latest report found that 99% of coronavirus cases sampled in the first two weeks of the year were identified as the omicron variant.

Jason Ubay is the managing editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at
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