HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday announced it has detected 24 additional cases of the omicron variant, bringing the total number in the state to 74.

At this time there’s no information on whether these cases were vaccinated, unvaccinated or had any history of recent travel.

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While all omicron cases detected so far are on Oahu, four specimens from the Big Island and two specimens from Maui contain a molecular clue indicating they are likely omicron.

“Booster shots are more important than ever. Please get your booster shot now,” DOH Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char said in a statement. “People who have received booster shots have much more protection from omicron than those who have not yet gotten their boosters.”

According to the DOH, the latest 24 omicron cases come from specimens collected from Dec. 7 through Dec. 13. The DOH says it expects omicron cases to increase rapidly statewide.

Kauai District Health Officer Dr. Janet Berreman on Wednesday attributed the rise to holiday gatherings, more traveling and the loosening of restrictions. These are all contributing factors to what she described as the “perfect storm” for the exponential increase in omicron cases.

“I don’t really know that we can flatten this curve given how quickly it’s rising, but we can at least slow that down a little bit,” Dr. Berreman said.

Dr. Berreman added that the main difference between delta and omicron is the speed in which the latter variant spreads.

“The omicron variant moves so quickly that we can’t keep up with it in real time with whole genome sequencing,” she said.

“Omicron is here,” added Hawaii DOH spokesperson Brooks Baehr. “I believe that we need to respond as if we assume that omicron is in our community, it’s at our doorstep and it’s knocking on the door, and we really need to do our best to keep it out.”

Local health officials continue to advise everyone to get vaccinated, boosted, wear their masks, wash their hands and avoid large gatherings.

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“A booster and good health would be just a wonderful holiday gift and a great way to get into the New Year,” Baehr continued. “This holiday season, please spread joy, not COVID.”