By Ashley Dyer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Health Officials in South Florida are searching for the Omicron Variant right at home.

While it has yet to be detected, experts say it’s only a matter of time. That’s why health officials are taking a proactive approach, searching for the variant. They’re doing that through randomized sequencing.

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Basically, what that means is if you go to a COVID19 testing site and wind up with a positive result, that result may be selected to be sent to a lab for scientists to analyze to determine which strain of the virus you are positive for.

If they find an Omicron positive result, they’ll be able to continue tests to figure out several things, like how aggressive the variant is, how well current vaccines respond to the variant and how contagious it is.

Even if Omicron is detected, the answers to these questions won’t appear overnight. It’ll take 10-14 days for results.

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says the data they collect will help health officials better protect the people here in South Florida.

“We’re doing this pursuant to CDC requests and it will help us to be as we’ve always been – data and science-driven in our handling of the pandemic,” she explains.

Because of the variant, COVID19 travel protocols are continuing to change.

If you’re traveling internationally this holiday season, save yourself the headache and do some research first. There are two things you need to know; the vaccine requirements where you’re going and the type of COVID test you need to take before showing up at the airport.


“We wanted to do a girl’s trip and have some fun in the sun and with American people,” says Sindy Cufi, who’s visiting from France.

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Sindy and her friends arrived from Paris this afternoon with proof of negative COVID tests and vaccines, happier than ever to be in Miami.

“We want to check out some parties, and maybe go on a boat,” they tell CBS4’s Ashley Dyer.

Just ahead of the holidays, the CDC is changing COVID19 testing protocols, requiring international travelers to show proof of a negative test within 24 hours of their departure time. There’s no word yet from the CDC on when this will go into effect.

“I got my vaccination and thought that was enough to travel but no we had to do the COVID test,” says Engrid Cufi, who’s also visiting from Paris.

Engrid, Sindy, and their two friends will have to take another COVID test in order to return back to France as well. A traveler heading to the Caribbean was denied access to her flight today even though she’s vaccinated and showed a negative test.

“It just didn’t have the specific type of test it just said we were tested, and we were clear to travel but it needs to have on it PCR test so they didn’t accept it,” says Amarlia Benn who’s visiting Miami from St. Vincent.

Benn says the constant changes are stressful and costly.

“The airline would have put us on the next flight but that’s full, so we’d be on standby. So, we have to look for connecting flights which we have to pay for,” she says.

A spokesperson for the CDC says they’re working to modify the current global testing orders for travel as they learn more about the Omicron variant.

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President Joe Biden is expected to hold a press conference tomorrow on an updated plan for travel. We’ll bring you any new information as we learn it.