The world is yet to get over the terrors of the COVID-19 pandemic. With most people getting vaccinations, people are able to step out of their homes after two years. Sadly, the joy was short-lived with the highly-mutated new strain of COVID-19 Omicron making the world lose sleep over it. The new variant is more infectious and scientists are worried right now as they are trying to get to the root of it and finding possible remedies to prevent it.
Omicron was first detected in the African nation, Botswana in November 2021. However, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, the scientist who discovered Omicron, reveals that the new variant has extremely mild symptoms. She also says that countries are panicking without any valid reason. It’s time to dive into the details and know what lies ahead.
Symptoms of Omicron
The head of the South African Medical Association, Dr. Coetzee, revealed on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show that she spotted the presence of the variant in a man who was in his 30s. The symptoms observed in him were quite unusual. The man had been feeling extremely tired over the last few days. He also had aches and pains throughout his body, along with a headache.
The COVID-19 symptoms include a sore throat with a loss of taste and smell. The man had nothing of that but had a scratchy throat. However, a RAT or a rapid antigen test found that he had a COVID-19 infection just like the rest of his family members. But surprisingly, none of them had any strong symptoms. In fact, all of them had pretty mild symptoms. That day, more people came in, and they all had identical symptoms.
After a thorough investigation and study, doctors found that these patients were battling the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. This was alarming to Dr. Coetzee, and she had the advisory committee rush in COVID vaccines. More so because the new symptoms had nothing in common with the Delta variant.
Cases at the Omicron Epicentre
The world is panic-stricken with the emergence of the Delta variant of COVID-19. However, Dr. Coetzee and her colleagues don’t see a reason why they should send someone with Omicron symptoms to the hospital. Being and practicing at the epicenter of Omicron, she has clinically investigated the symptoms of Omicron and has found them to be extremely mild.
Dr. Coetzee, while speaking to Andrew Marr, says that countries are panicking without reason and imposing mask and travel restrictions. She also believes that the Omicron variant might be present in numerous countries, and the authorities might not be aware of it. Dr. Coetzee emphasizes that there is nothing to worry about at this stage. She also added that it might take a few weeks to assess the severity of the Omicron variant. However, at the moment, everything is under control, and there is no reason to worry.
What is the World Health Organization’s Stand on Omicron?
Maria van Kerkhove, WHO’s the technical lead on COVID-19, says that the organization aims to have more detailed information regarding the transmissibility of Omicron. She agrees that at the present moment, there is not much information available on Omicron.
This means it is impossible to say if it is comparatively more infectious than the Delta variant or its effects on people in the coming days. Within a few weeks after the first case in South Africa, Omicron is spreading fast. It is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant of SARS-CoV-2.
Present Status in South Africa
The number of new Omicron cases in South Africa is up from 4373 to 8561 within a day. A senior health official of Botswana stated that 16 out of the 19 Omicron cases were asymptomatic. Acting Director-General for Health, Ministry of Health of Kenya, Dr. Patrick Amoth, spoke to Reuters about the virus. According to him, most of the 19 people with Omicron have already come out negative. While 16 people have no symptoms, three people have very mild symptoms.
According to the NICD or the National Institute of Communicable Diseases of South Africa, Omicron has the potential to penetrate your immunity. However, the COVID-19 vaccines should protect you against any damage. The bottom line is there is no strong reason to panic right now.