COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — South Carolina health officials said Wednesday that they are continuing to “closely monitor” the latest developments with the omicron variant.
The first U.S. case was confirmed Wednesday afternoon in California. Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said the new COVID-19 variant had not been detected in the state as of Wednesday.
Dr. Brannon Traxler, the state’s public health director, said surveillance for the new variant has been ongoing. She said random positive tests are sequenced daily in private labs and in DHEC’s Public Lab.
“I don’t know if it’s already in the Carolinas,” Traxler said. “At least in South Carolina we have a very robust testing and sequencing program.”
According to DHEC’s website, health officials also sequence all breakthrough cases in the state for variants.
Health officials said right now the new variant’s severity, transmissibility compared with other variants, and the effectiveness of current vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments against it are not known, but data and information continue to be gathered.
Traxler recommends that people use the same protections South Carolinians have been taking to combat the spread of the disease.
“Regardless of omicron, delta or any other variant, the actions you can take to protect yourself and others around you remains the same,” she said. “Vaccinations, masks, testing and physical distancing.”
Traxler told reporters during a media briefing that it could take a couple of weeks before officials know how the new variant compares with other strains.
She said the delta variant remains the predominant variant in South Carolina.