The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has issued the following statement on the COVID-19 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 (CDC) 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 (VOC) 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 continues to be gathered.
In keeping with our responsibility to protect the health of every South Carolinian, the DHEC team is proactively preparing for any potential threats posed by Omicron and is already testing for it. DHEC is also committed to ensuring South Carolinians have the most up-to-date, accurate information about COVID-19, including the Omicron variant, and will update information as appropriate.
DHEC is still saying the best way to prevent severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19 infection is by:
⦁ receiving the follow-up booster shot ⦁ when eligible, ⦁ continuing to wear masks when indoors in public places, and ⦁ practicing social distancing when appropriate.
According to DHEC, vaccination is the best to protect yourself and others from COVID-19, and the quickest way to end this pandemic. DHEC strongly encourages South Carolinians ages five and older to complete their COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible and get their booster shot once they are eligible. For the latest information about COVID-19 and ways to protect yourself and your family, go to scdhec.gov/covid19.