HC health department ‘closely monitoring’ omicron COVID variant

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has said it has yet to identify any cases of the newly identified COVID variant in the state.

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

DHEC issued the following statement on the omicron variant on Monday afternoon:

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

Sequencing of DHEC would detect any variant present in these samples, including variants like Omicron that are not declared variants of concern by CDC. The federal agency has yet to put Omicron on its VOC list. DHEC tracks VOCs on its variant web page and updates the list as needed based on the latest CDC determinations.

Information on the Omicron variant such as disease severity, transmissibility compared to other variants and the effectiveness of current vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments against it is not known at this time because data and information continues to be collected.

DHEC leaders insist that the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization or death from COVID-19 infection is to get the COVID-19 vaccine, to receive the follow-up reminder when ‘he is eligible, to wear masks indoors in public places and to practice appropriate social distancing.

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