The new variant has been named the Omicron variant. Or the B.1.1.529. It was first discovered in the country Botswana. It is an African country. But scientists from South Africa had reported this virus to the WHO first. On 24th November 2021. Since then, this variant has been identified in many major countries. It means that this variant has already spread to many countries, including Australia, Italy, Germany Netherlands, Britain, Israel, Belgium, Czech Republic, and Hong Kong. These are only the known cases. In reality, by the time you read this post, this variant would likely have spread to almost all major countries.
Omicron Variant: A variant of concern of variant of interest?
On 26th November 2021, the World Health Organization or the WHO labeled this variant as a ‘variant of concern.’ the World Health Organization classifies Covid-19 variants into 2 main categories. A Variant of Concern and A Variant of Interest.
A Variant of Interest
The Variant of Interest is those variants due to which significant community transmission of Covid-19 can be seen. Or it may even affect the transmissibility or the severity of the virus. These variants may be potentially problematic. Currently, there are 2 variants of interest according to the WHO. First is the Lambda variant. It was discovered in Peru in December 2020. And the second is the Mu variant. Found in Colombia in January 2021.
A variant of Concern (VOC)
The truly problematic variants fall into the category of Variants of Concern. Those variants of Covid-19 that increase the transmissibility are included in this type. Covid-19 spreads easier due to it or the severity of the disease increases. The symptoms become significantly stronger or the effectiveness of the vaccines or the effectiveness of the public health measures reduces. Till now, there were 4 variants of concern according to the WHO. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Of these, Delta was the most dangerous variant. It was discovered in India in October 2020. And the deadly second wave of Covid-19 that was seen in India, was because of this Delta variant.
The Alpha variant was discovered in the UK in September 2020. Beta in South Africa and Gamma in Brazil. Till now, Delta has been the most dominant variant. Presently, the Covid-19 cases that are seen in the world, majority of those cases, perhaps even 80% – 90% of the cases, are of the Delta variant.
But the new Omicron virus has become the fifth variant to enter the VOC category.
How deadly is the omicron variant?
The next question is whether the Omicron variant is more deadly or less deadly? Friends, we don’t have the clear-cut answer to this yet. Scientists say that it would take a few weeks to determine this. But the preliminary data from South Africa show that hospitalizations have increased. But this can’t be used to come to a clear-cut conclusion because if this virus was more transmissible, it would have spread among many people rapidly. Many people would have come to the hospital at the same time. And thus the hospitalization might have increased.
On the other hand, it might be that if this turns out to be more deadly, that could be the reason for the increased hospitalization. That’s why to conclude anything about its Death Rate, wouldn’t be correct. We still don’t know whether the effectiveness of the vaccines on the Omicron variant would decrease or not. Time would answer this too.
In any case, the chances are that the vaccines would remain effective. But slightly less effective. So, if you are vaccinated, and are maintaining normal precautions, all would be good. Overall, there’s so much raw information.
FAQs about Omicron virus
Here, the important question for us is how easily can this variant spread? How transmissible is it? Regarding this, the WHO states that we do not have sufficient data for this. Since it has been discovered very recently. But a case study was conducted in a region in South Africa. There, the test positivity saw a significant increase within a week from 1% to 30%.
WHO claims that chances are, this is much more transmissible. A disease modeling scientist has estimated that this strain is 500% more transmissible as compared to the original Wuhan strain. To give you a fair comparison, the Delta strain was said to be 60% more transmissible than the Alpha strain. While the Alpha was 50% more transmissible than the original Wuhan strain. In comparison to Delta, it seems to be much more transmissible. And this might be good news. Because, in viruses, the more transmissible viruses, are often less deadly. And the deadlier diseases, aren’t very transmissible. This is a general trend that we get to see. There can be exceptions to this trend. But generally, this is the case among diseases.
You can see in this graph the speed with which the Omicron variant has become the dominant variant in South Africa. At a much rapid pace than the Delta variant, which proves again that this is much more transmissible.
Covid-19 and omicron virus symptoms, treatment and precautions
Omicron symptoms: What are the emergency Covid-19 and Omicron Symptoms?
Keep a close eye on yourself or a loved one for signs of deterioration. Call your doctor if your symptoms seem to be getting worse. The doctor may recommend a home pulse oximeter, especially if the patient has risk factors for severe sickness with COVID-19 or Omicron and COVID-19 symptoms.
A pulse oximeter is a finger-clipped plastic device. By detecting the amount of oxygen in the blood, the device can aid in monitoring breathing. A value of less than 92 percent may indicate that hospitalization is required. If your doctor gives you a pulse oximeter, ensure you know how to use it properly and, when reading, should necessitate a call to the doctor. If you or the individual with COVID-19 develops emergency warning signs, seek medical help right away. If the ill individual cannot be roused up or detect any emergency signals, call 911 or your local emergency number. These are the emergency symptoms of Omicron or Covid-19.
- Breathing problems: Chest discomfort or pressure that persists a new source of perplexity.
- Lips or face that is bluish.
- Being unable to stay awake.
- Pale, grey, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds are based on skin tone.
How to treat Covid-19 at home?
Most patients infected with COVID-19 will only have a slight sickness and will be able to recover at home. Symptoms may persist a few days, and those infected with the virus may recover in about a week. Rest, drink intake, and pain medicines are among the treatments to alleviate symptoms. Older folks and persons of any age who have pre-existing medical conditions, on the other hand, should go to the hospital as soon as the symptoms start. Because of these variables, people are more likely to become very ill with COVID-19.
Moreover, follow the doctor’s advice on care and home isolation for yourself or a close one. If you have any treatment-related questions, speak with your doctor. Assist the sick individual in getting groceries and prescriptions and taking care of their pet if necessary. It’s also crucial to evaluate the impact of caring for a sick person on your health. COVID-19 may increase your risk of serious illness if you are older or have a pre-
existing health condition, such as heart or lung, or diabetes. You might want to separate yourself from the sick individual and find someone else to care for them.
Covid-19 and Omicron Precautions
How to protect others if you are affected?
If you’re infected with COVID-19, you can help prevent the virus from spreading further.
- Unless you need medical help, stay away from the workplace, school, and public areas.
- Use public transportation, ride-sharing programs, or cabs as little as possible.
- As much as possible, isolate yourself in one room, away from your family and other people. This applies to eating in your room as well. Improve air quality to allow air to circulate. If at all possible, use a separate bathroom. As much as possible, stop sharing space in your home.
- Moreover, when using familiar places, keep your movements to a minimum.
- Make sure your kitchen and other communal areas are well ventilated.
- Keep a distance of at least 6 feet between you and your family members.
- Every day, clean surfaces in your separate room and bathroom that are frequently touched, such as door handles, light switches, electronics, and countertops. Dishes, towels, blankets, and gadgets are examples of personal household products that should not be shared.
- When you’re around other people, wear a face mask. Every day, change the face mask.
- When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow if wearing a face mask isn’t possible. After that, either throw the tissue away or wash the handkerchief.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap for at least 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol by volume.
Self-defense while caring for someone who has COVID-19
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following precautions when caring for someone with COVID-19:
- Keep your hands away from your face and clean. Use water to clean your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after coming into close contact or being in the same place as a sick person.
- Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren’t accessible.
- Put your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Put on a face mask. If you must be in the same room as the sick individual and cannot wear a face mask, wear one yourself.
- Always keep a minimum distance of 6 feet from the ill person.
- While wearing your mask, avoid touching or handling it. Replace your cover with a clean, dry one if it becomes damp or dirty. Remove the used mask from your face and wash your hands.
- Clean your house regularly. Clean surfaces frequently touched, such as counters, tabletops, and doorknobs, with home cleaning sprays or wipes every day.
- Clean the ill person’s separate room and bathroom as little as possible.
- Set aside solely the sick person’s bedding and utensils. When it relates to laundry, be careful. Don’t swish your soiled laundry around.
- Wash and dry the ill person’s clothes with ordinary detergent. Use the warmest setting you have accessible. After placing clothes in the dryer, clean your hands. Dry your clothes thoroughly. If you’re dealing with filthy clothing from the sick person, put on disposable gloves and keep the items away from your body. After removing the gloves, wash your hands. In the unwell person’s room, put dirty gloves and masks in a rubbish bin with a lid. After cleaning and disinfecting the clothes hampers, wash your hands. Plates should be touched carefully.
- Use gloves when handling the ill person’s dishes, glasses, or utensils. Washing machines or soap and hot water can clean the goods. After removing the gloves or handling used products, wash your hands.
- Direct contact with the ill person’s bodily excretions must be prevented.
- Use disposable gloves and a face shield when providing oral and respiratory care and handling excrement, urine, or other debris.
- Before and after removing your gloves and mask, clean your hands. Your show and gloves should not be repeated.
- Keep unwanted visitors away from home. Visitors should never be allowed until the sick person has recovered fully with no indications or symptoms of COVID-19.
So this was all about omicron virus- facts, symptoms, treatment and precautions. So be careful about yourself and for your loved ones.
Note: Must read What are the omicron symptoms, treatment and precautionary measures you can take?