What’s New On The COVID Front?

It’s been a while since I wrote about COVID-19 since India had things under control after the devastating Delta wave. However, as a third wave now looms large on the horizon, let’s take a look at what’s in store for us.

Just when we think we’ve seen the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, comes another unexpected variant, another lockdown, and another set of symptoms to watch out for! Omicron is the latest COVID-19 strain, with the one redeeming factor that its time frame is lesser, and the whole process seems to be sped up. Let me explain this in detail.

When someone is exposed to the Omicron variant, it takes lesser time to develop symptoms than the other earlier variants. For many people, it also takes lesser time to recover. This could be because the virus itself is mutating into lesser intense strains, or because people are now vaccinated. However, Omicron, while considered milder, is also highly contagious and seems to be spreading like wildfire with an unbelievably sharp spike in cases on a daily basis!

The key symptoms are sneezing, sore throat, fatigue and loss of smell. The time to get tested is immediately after symptoms start to surface, or 3-5 days after known exposure to the virus. Regardless of your vaccination status, isolate and quarantine yourself as per guidelines until you’re completely sure of being COVID-free. If you’ve travelled, it is best to put yourself under home quarantine for at least a week. Once you’ve tested positive for the virus, it could take anywhere between a couple of days to two weeks for you to get well completely.

Of course, while Omicron is mild, use your common sense and immediately rush to a hospital or call a doctor if you have any alarming symptoms like difficulty breathing, chest pain, or drowsiness. On another note, it might also be a good idea to get your booster shot now. Also, a cloth mask or regular disposable mask may not be adequate to protect the spread of Omicron. You should ideally always use an N95 mask (two of them, if possible!) and follow all distancing and safety protocols.

And even as Omicron cases rise worldwide, we’ve discovered the next variant – the IHU of Cameroonian origin. Apparently, this variant isn’t new; it was discovered as early as November 2021 in a group of people in France, and it is only now coming to light because of the rising numbers. While it is still premature for us to discuss this mutation, early data indicates that it isn’t as contagious as Omicron.

As the world – and India – enters various phases of a lockdown, let’s hope that the pandemic is soon an endemic and that the entire population is vaccinated to ensure this.

Consult Dr. Renuka