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South Carolina health leaders ‘closely monitoring’ Omicron variant of COVID-19

DHEC said its team is “proactively preparing for any potential threats posed by omicron and is already testing for it.”
Published: Nov. 29, 2021 at 4:22 PM EST
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ROCK HILL, S.C. (WBTV) - The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says it has not yet identified any cases of a newly-identified COVID-19 variant in the state.

DHEC said its team is “proactively preparing for any potential threats posed by omicron and is already testing for it.”

On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that two cases had been found in Canada. The CDC has not issued guidance or declared omicron a Variant of Concern (VOC).

DHEC released the following statement Monday afternoon on the Omicron variant:

DHEC is closely monitoring the emerging information on the newly-identified Omicron variant as well as the Center for Disease Control & Prevention’s guidance on it. At this time, the CDC and DHEC have not identified any cases in South Carolina through sequencing of randomly selected positive samples.

DHEC’s sequencing would detect any variant present in those specimens, including variants like Omicron that are not declared Variants of Concern by the CDC. The federal agency has not yet listed Omicron on its VOC list. DHEC tracks VOC on its variant webpage and updates the list as needed based on the latest CDC determinations.

Information about the Omicron variant such as illness severity, transmissibility compared to other variants, and the effectiveness of current vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments against it are not known at this time as data and information continue to be gathered.

DHEC leaders insist the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19 infection is to get vaccinated against COVID, receive the follow-up booster shot when eligible, wear masks when indoors in public places and practice appropriate social distancing.

Health officials are gearing up proactively and say they are already testing for the Omicron variant.

The most up-to-date information on the variant can be found on DHEC’s website.

Here’s are the best ways to prevent severe illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19, according to DHEC officials:

  • receiving the follow-up booster shot when eligible,
  • continuing to wear masks when indoors in public places, and
  • practicing social distancing when appropriate

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