Patients mostly suffered from mild muscle aches, scratchy throat and dry cough
Doctors in South Africa have suggested that the symptoms of the omicron Covid variant could be milder than those caused by the globally-dominant delta variant, though the WHO warns it is still too early to draw conclusions about the fast-spreading new form of SARS.CoV.2.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, a South African doctor and chair of the South African Medical Association who was one of the first persons to suspect the emergence of a different virus variant there, said she noticed seven patients at her clinic who had symptoms different from those typically seen with delta.
“What brought them to the surgery was this extreme tiredness,” she told AFP, adding that the patients had mild muscle aches, 一种 “scratchy throat” and dry cough.
Dr Coetzee, who also sits on South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said she alerted health officials of a “clinical picture that doesn’t fit delta” 上 18 November when seven patients showed different symptoms.
“Symptoms at that stage was very much related to normal viral infection. And because we haven’t seen 冠状病毒病-19 for the past eight to 10 周, we decided to test,” she told Reuters.
“We have seen a lot of delta patients during the third wave. And this doesn’t fit in the clinical picture. Most of them are seeing very, very mild symptoms and none of them so far have admitted patients to surgeries,” 她说.
Dr Coetzee said that unlike with delta, so far patients were not reporting loss of smell or taste and there had been no major drops in oxygen levels associated with the new variant. All the patients were eligible to be treated “conservatively” at home, 她说.
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According to the doctor, the variant is affecting people who are 40 or younger. 几乎 50 per cent of the patients with symptoms of omicron that she treated were not vaccinated, 她说.
At a briefing convened on Monday by South Africa’s Department of Health, general practitioner Dr Unben Pillay listed the symptoms that omicron patients were reporting with. 他说: “We are seeing patients present with dry cough, fever, night sweats and a lot of body pains. Vaccinated people tend to do much better.”
He added that there has been a “very sharp increase” in cases in the past 10 天.
“Higher transmissibility is likely. We are going to get more cases quickly, we are already seeing early evidence of this,” said epidemiologist Salim Abdool Karim at the briefing.
A report from an Indian newspaper said the health authorities in Delhi had spoken to their South African counterparts about the new variant, and been told that the areas affected were witnessing a very low rate of hospitalisation linked to omicron. So far globally no deaths have been recorded in relation to this new variant.
“So far, it only manifests in the form of mild disease with extreme fatigue and throat irritation being the predominant symptoms,” the sources from the Indian side told the Indian Express.
多于 200 cases of omicron have been reported around the world, from at least 20 countries. The UK now accounts for 14 of those, with omicron infections confirmed in Scotland, 诺丁汉, Essex and Westminster.
在星期天, Dr Coetzee told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the UK was “panicking unnecessarily” after the first two people were found infected with the new variant in England.
“I think you already have it there in your country and you’re not knowing it, and I would say, 是的, at this stage I would say definitely,” 她说.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified omicron as “variant of concern” and urged caution, saying it is still too early to say how dangerous or transmissible the variant is.
“Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the omicron variant will take days to several weeks,” the WHO said in a statement on Sunday.
The health body added that “there is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different from those from other variants”.
The B.1.1.529 variant was detected and announced by South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) 上 25 十一月.
In the wake of the new variant’s discovery, countries across the world have tightened their border restrictions and banned air travel from South Africa. In England, mask mandates have returned on public transport and in shops in efforts to slow the spread of the virus.