HOUSTON, Texas (ValleyCentral) — The Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 has been detected in Houston’s wastewater.

The Houston Health Department announced on Monday night that several samples taken in November confirmed the presence of the variant.

Wastewater samples that were collected on Nov. 29-30 showed the Omicron variant at eight of the city’s 39 water treatment plants, according to a news release from the Houston Health Department.

“Omicron in Houston is cause for concern but not panic,” said Dr. David Persse, chief medical officer for the City of Houston in the release. “It’s important to remember that vaccination is our best tool to reduce cases, prevent serious illness and death, and slow the emergence of new variants.”

The health department routinely tests wastewater for the virus, including new variants. People infected with COVID-19 shed the virus in their feces, according to the release.

“The wastewater data helps to more quickly identify emerging outbreaks and hotspots needing interventions to help stop the spread of the virus,” the release stated.