As Omicron Cases Rise, Prevention Better Than Panic: Here’s What Experts Suggest

COVID, COVID19, Omicron

Several countries across the world, including the U.S. and Europe, are seeing highest single day increases in Covid cases since the beginning of the pandemic. India too is witnessing a surge in Covid cases with the tally of the latest variant Omicron going up with each passing day. It stood at 781 on Wednesday, registering a 45 % spike.

Many states including the poll-bound populous Uttar Pradesh in the North and Karnataka in the South have imposed night curfew. The national Capital Delhi has also announced a Yellow alert seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, putting curbs on gatherings, closing schools, colleges, gyms and reducing the number of travellers in Metro trains and public buses.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the risk posed by the Omicron variant remains very high.

Amid the panic and concern due to the spread of Omicron, experts and doctors have cautioned people to adhere to Covid appropriate behaviour. Dr Bimal Chhajer, a pioneer in the field of non-invasive cardiology who heads a non-profit organisation SAOL which is headquartered in Delhi,   assured that Omicron will not be as severe as the previous COVID-19 variant Delta.

He said: “Omicron will be spreading at a 70% faster rate than any earlier COVID-19 variant but will be 10% less effective on lung tissues. People should wear face masks, observe hand hygiene and maintain physical distance.

Dr Ashish K Jha of Brown University School of Public Health, suggested that people should wear masks indoors to prevent further spread of Omicron. He said in a tweet, “Given rapid Omicron spread Should we be calling for outdoor masking? No, I’ve seen no evidence that Omicron spreads efficiently outdoors I’m wearing a high-quality mask indoors in crowded public places. But not when I’m outside. Let’s focus on where Omicron spreads Indoors.`

Dr Jha also said that the Omicron variant is becoming a dominant variant and thus people should get their vaccination to avoid unpleasant circumstances. He tweeted, “Nearly 3 out of 4 infections in the US are now Omicron. This has become dominant so fast. Omicron is now essentially everywhere. Get your booster. Wear a mask in large indoor events. Use rapid tests before gathering. We can get through this people.”

Dr Faheem Younus suggested that though the cases of Omicron are doubling every two days unlike Delta where cases doubled every 2 weeks, the severity of the virus is less than its previous variant. He also suggested that vaccines are less effective against Omicron and there is a higher chance of its reinfection compared to Delta.

Dr Anthony Fauci, U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor, recently urged people to not go to the kinds of indoor parties attended by dozens of people whose vaccination status you don’t know. Dr Fauci quoting recent data from Britain shows that, in its Omicron wave, a lower percentage of newly infected people are needing hospitalization. He warned that unvaccinated people “are the most vulnerable ones when you have a virus that is extraordinarily effective in getting to people and infecting them the way Omicron is.

The Omicron variant of coronavirus was first observed in the Netherlands and was later declared as the Variant of Concern (VoC) by WHO on November 26, 2021, after it became the dominant variant in South Africa.

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