COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina’s lead health agency said it is monitoring developments related to the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control on Monday said they have not yet identified any cases in the state through sequencing randomly selected positive samples.

But the health agency is actively preparing for any possible threats by the variant. They are also already testing for it.

“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,” health officials said.

“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,” said DHEC.

That is why they are encouraging everyone to complete their COVID-19 vaccinations or receive a booster following the discovery of the new variant.

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.