By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Public health officials say they are closely monitoring a rapidly spreading variant of the coronavirus known as the omicron variant.

In a statement, the California Department of Public Health said:

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“California is closely monitoring the new Omicron variant, which has not yet arrived in California or the U.S. Vaccines continue to be our best way through the pandemic by safely protecting us against severe illness from COVID-19 and its variants. We are doubling down on our vaccination and booster efforts to ensure that all Californians have access to safe, effective, and free vaccines that can prevent serious illness and death.”

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To that end, the department says it is monitoring the “rapidly evolving situation,” which has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.

Authorities are advising travelers who have recently been in South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe within the last 14 days to get tested 3-5 days after arrival.

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As well, travelers from those areas should also quarantine for 7 days even if testing negative, and isolate for 10 days if COVID-19 symptoms develop, according to public health officials.