A doctor in South Africa, one of the first to suspect the emergence of a different virus strain, assured that Omicron’s symptoms are “mild” amid growing concerns over the new Covid variant.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association, said she saw seven patients in her clinic whose symptoms were different from the delta variant.
“What brought them in for surgery was extreme fatigue,” she said. AFP, adding that the patients had mild muscle pain, a “scratchy throat” and a dry cough.
Dr Coetzee said he alerted health officials to a “clinical picture that does not fit Delta” on 18 November, when seven patients showed different symptoms.
“Symptoms at that stage were very much related to common viral infections. And because we haven’t seen Covid-19 for the past eight to 10 weeks, we decided to get tested,” she said. Reuters,
“We’ve seen a lot of Delta patients during the third wave. And it doesn’t fit the clinical picture. Most of them are showing very, very mild symptoms and none of them have turned patients so far. Haven’t admitted for surgery,” she said. ,
Dr Coetzee highlighted that he was able to conservatively treat patients at home.
According to the doctor, the variant is affecting people in their 40s or younger. He said about 50 percent of patients with Omicron’s symptoms had not been vaccinated.
On Saturday, Omicron’s first two UK cases were announced, rising to three on Sunday – all linked to travel to southern Africa. On Monday, six new cases linked to the Omicron variant were identified in Scotland, which has now risen to nine in Scotland, Hamza Yusuf, the country’s health secretary, confirmed.
The UK total now stands at 14 cases with infections located in Nottingham, Essex and Westminster.
The doctor told on Sunday BBCAndrew Marr said Britain was “unnecessarily panicking” after two individuals in England were found to be infected with the new strain.
“I think you already have it in your country and you don’t know it, and I would say, yes, at this stage I certainly would,” she said.
Following his remarks, the World Health Organization (WHO), which called the new strain “a sort of concern”, urged caution.
“The initial reported infections were among university students – younger individuals who tend to have more mild illness – but it will take up to several days to understand the level of severity of the Omicron variant,” the WHO said in a statement on Sunday.
The health body said that “there is currently no information to suggest that the symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those of other types.”
Version B.220.127.116.119 was detected and announced by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) of South Africa on 25 November.
In the wake of the discovery of the new strain, countries in the United States, Australia, Europe and Asia have tightened their border restrictions and banned air travel from South Africa. In England the mask mandate is back on public transport and in shops in efforts to slow the spread of the virus.