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Omicron more infectious, less severe, early reports suggest

Early studies by researchers in South Africa, where the omicron variant was first identified and is spreading quickly, suggest the new variant may cause less severe COVID cases than other forms of the virus, but spreads more easily and quickly.

Researchers from a major hospital complex in Pretoria said patients with the coronavirus are much less sick than those treated in the past, and other hospitals are seeing similar patterns. However, health experts are cautioning against placing too much faith in these early reports, as more study is needed for the variant discovered just last month.

Governments have reacted to the new variant with harsh restrictions on international travel and new vaccination requirements, contentious moves made in the absence of harder information and in the wake of accusations of slow responses earlier in the pandemic.

The variant has spread rapidly and has been detected in more than 30 countries on six continents so far, including the United States. The United States on Monday began requiring international travelers arriving in the country to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test taken no more than 24 hours before their flights.

Latest COVID-19 data

South Carolina health officials reported 661 total cases of COVID-19 Dec. 7, with 500 confirmed. A total of 4 new deaths, with 2 confirmed, were also reported.

With 10,759 tests reported Monday, 6.4% were confirmed positive.

Percentage of S.C. residents age 12+ with at least one vaccine: 63.6%
Percentage of of S.C. residents age 12+ who have completed vaccination: 55.3%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 with at least one vaccine: 8.4%
Percentage of S.C. residents age 5-11 who have completed vaccination: 3.0%