Of the many challenges ahead in battling the latest Omicron variant of the coronavirus, time has proven to be the most crucial. Just as the medical community across the world was still getting to know the super mutant (already termed as a variant of concern by WHO), it is rapidly spreading despite travel bans while reinfecting the fully vaccinated.
Less than twenty-four hours after the first two cases of Omicron variant were reported in Karnataka, 10 Omicron suspects have been admitted to Delhi's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) hospital. As per the sources widely quoted by locals, about six Omicron suspects were admitted on Thursday, while four have been admitted on Friday.
It must be noted that all of the four admitted have a travel history, as two have come from the UK, one from France and one from the Netherlands. Earlier on Thursday, Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar in a media interaction, asked people not to panic, while maintaining cautious attitude and Covid-appropriate behaviour as Omicron is known to be reinfecting the fully vaccinated.
"Two people found positive for the Omicron variant of Covid-19. One person is about 66-years-old and a South African National who has gone back. Another person is a 46-year-old doctor. He does not have any travel history," he further said.
In an interview with IANS, Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director, LNJP Hospital, said on Friday, "We have admitted a total of 10 individuals who are suspected to be of new Covid variant Omicron. However, their genome sequencing reports are still awaited."
What do we know about Omicron so far?
It was only on November 25 that the new variant Omicron of Covid-19 was first ever reported to the World Health Organisation from South Africa. On November 26, the public health agency termed it as the 'variant of concern.'
Worldwide apprehension and panic followed and as did the travel restrictions imposed by dozens of countries on South African nations. Despite which, the new variant has been confirmed in 23 countries. A number that is expected to rise drastically.
As per one of the latest studies, though not peer reviewed yet, a study by South African Researchers said the Omicron variant can increase the risk of reinfection by three times as compared to other variants of concern like Beta and Delta.
The silver lining in the Omicron scare
While the new variant has already proven to be highly infectious, fortunately, none of the Covid patients infected by Omicron has reported severe illness. The Union Health Ministry on Friday said that the severity of the disease from Omicron variant could be low due to the fast pace of vaccination and already high exposure to the Delta variant.
The ministry also said, "All Omicron related cases are found to have mild symptoms so far, No severe symptoms have been noticed in such cases in India and abroad."