What is Omicron?
Since a group of experts from the W.H.O. sat down to assess a particular variant after the first reported case from South Africa on 24th November, they have concluded it to be concerning and easily transmissible. It is also decided that the virus’s ability to mutate rapidly and the number of them (mutations*) is what made it a variant of concern. It is thus named Omicron.
*Mutation: significant /basic change.
A change in the structure of genes or chromosomes of an organism.
How different is Omicron from the other variants of Covid-19?
There is not enough data to know how different this variant is when compared to others. However, even though it's not clear, if it spreads faster or not, the number of people getting infected is increasing at a rapid rate everyday.
Is there a treatment for Omicron?
Research is still ongoing to understand the speed at which the virus spreads infection, the changes in its nature, how well the vaccines and the treatments that are already available, work. However, it is also proven, that the treatments and tests, used to manage severe COVID-19 patients will still work on patients infected with the Omicron variant.
When should you worry?
People infected with the Omicron variant display the same symptoms as those infected with Covid-19. So, if you have any signs of Covid-19 infection like fever, cough, loss of taste or smell, tiredness, headache, other aches, diarrhoea, rash, red or irritated eyes, loss of speech or confusion, chest pain, difficulty breathing or if you have come into contact with a person, who has been diagnosed Covid positive, please visit a healthcare centre or a hospital or get a PCR test done to detect the infection. Please remember that sometimes there might not be any outward symptoms or signs.
Note: Not all symptoms might present themselves in everyone and not all fevers lead to a Covid-19 infection. Please confirm an infection by visiting a doctor or through a test and avoid panic.
Is Omicron more dangerous than the Delta variant?
Omicron is not been declared more or less dangerous than the previous known variants, as there is not enough data to come to a conclusion yet. But it is to be kept in mind that any variant of Covid-19 can range from being a mild infection to extremely dangerous, sometimes even causing death. So, everyone needs to be careful to not contract the infection.
What should we do?
It is important to remember that all the safety measures that were proven effective against the other variants of Covid-19 still work, in the case of Omicron as well.
- So, maintain a distance of at least one metre, when interacting with people.
- Wash your hands with soap, frequently or use a sanitizer.
- Wear a mask that fits well, when outdoors.
- Stay in well-ventilated spaces.
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated rooms.
- Sneeze or cough into a tissue or your elbow.
- It is also advisable to get vaccinated and not miss any of your doses.