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Symptoms of Omicron: Covid variant may not match Delta’s “clinical picture”, doctor says

South African doctors have suggested that the symptoms of the omicron Covid variant may be milder than those caused by the globally-dominant delta variant, although the WHO warns that it is still too early to draw conclusions on the news. rapidly spreading form of SARS. CoV.2.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, a South African physician and president of the South African Medical Association who was one of the first to suspect the emergence of a different viral variant there, said she noticed seven patients in his clinic who presented with symptoms different from those commonly seen. with delta.

“What brought them to the operation was this extreme fatigue,” she told AFP, adding that the patients had mild muscle pain, a “itchy throat” and a dry cough. .

Dr Coetzee, who also sits on South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said she alerted health officials to a “clinical picture that does not match the delta” on November 18 when seven patients were presented with different symptoms.

“The symptoms at this stage were very much related to a normal viral infection. And because we haven’t seen Covid-19 in the past eight to 10 weeks, we decided to test, ”she told Reuters.

“We saw a lot of delta patients during the third wave. And that does not fit into the clinical picture. Most of them have very, very mild symptoms and none of them so far have admitted patients for surgery, ”she said.

Dr Coetzee said that unlike delta, so far patients have not reported loss of smell or taste and that there has been no major drop in oxygen levels associated with the new variant. All patients were eligible to be treated “conservatively” at home, she said.

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According to the doctor, the variant affects people 40 years of age or younger. Almost 50% of the patients with omicron symptoms she treated were not vaccinated, she said.

In a briefing organized by the South African Department of Health on Monday, GP Dr Unben Pillay listed symptoms reported by omicron patients. He said: “We see patients presenting with a dry cough, fever, night sweats and a lot of body pain. People who have been vaccinated tend to do much better.

He added that there had been a “very large increase” in cases over the past 10 days.

“Higher transmissibility is likely. We will get more cases quickly, we are already seeing the first evidence, ”epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim said during the briefing.

A report from an Indian newspaper said health officials in Delhi had spoken to their South African counterparts about the new variant and learned that affected areas had a very low hospitalization rate linked to omicron. So far, worldwide, no deaths have been reported in connection with this new variant.

“So far it has only manifested as a mild illness with extreme fatigue and throat irritation being the predominant symptoms,” Indian sources told the Indian express.

Thousands of cases of omicron have been reported worldwide, with 38 countries reporting cases of the variant. The UK now has 150, with confirmed omicron infections in Scotland, Nottingham, Essex, Westminster and Wales.

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Dr Coetzee told the BBC on Sunday Andrew Marr Show that the UK was “unnecessarily panicking” after the first two people were found infected with the new variant in England.

“I think you already have it out there in your country and you don’t know it, and I would say, yes at this point I would definitely say,” she said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified omicron as a “variant of concern” but called for caution, saying it will take another two weeks to determine how transmissible and dangerous the variant really is.

WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier on Friday reiterated his advice on blanket travel bans except for countries whose health systems are unable to withstand a surge in infections.

“It is much better to prepare your country, your health system for possible incoming cases, because we can be pretty sure that this variant of omicron will spread,” he said.

He added: “Let’s not be put off just yet, let’s first get as much information as possible to do the right risk assessment based on the information we have, and then move on.

“Let’s not be completely worried or confused by individual information which is all individually important, but which needs to be put together in order to assess together. “

On Sunday, the health body said in a statement: “There is currently no information to suggest that the symptoms associated with omicron are any different from those of other variants.”

A former senior government science adviser has warned that the omicron variant has “squandered” the UK’s progress in the pandemic. Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, criticized the government’s lack of leadership and its urgency to tackle vaccine inequity issues.

The B.1.1.529 variant was detected and announced by the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) on November 25.

Following the discovery of the new variant, countries around the world have tightened their border restrictions and banned air travel from South Africa. In England, mask warrants are back on public transport and in shops to slow the spread of the virus.

New travel restrictions announced by the government yesterday stipulate that anyone aged 12 and over will have to take a test no more than 48 hours before arriving in the UK from 4 a.m. on Tuesday.

It came as the latest figures from the UK Health Security Agency (HSA) showed on Saturday that 26 more cases of the omicron variant had been reported across the UK, bringing the total to 160 so far. In another move, the government said Nigeria was added to the travel red list after 21 cases of the omicron variant in England were linked to travel from the West African nation.


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