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Omicron Virus

What is Omicron Virus? Know Its Symptoms & Preventions

Omicron Variant Overview

One of the Covid-19 variants that have shown more spread, ease of transmission from an affected to the recipient and has created news across the globe is Omicron. To talk about ‘What is Omicron?’ and ‘How can we deal with Omicron’, we need to know more details about its first detection and how different is this variant from the rest of them. Even if half of the population in most countries were vaccinated by the time Omicron was detected, why does this variant impose so much concern across the globe?

What is Omicron?

Omicron is the latest variant of SARS-Cov-2 (Popularly known as COVID-19), and its identification number is B.1.1.529.

This variant was reported to WHO (World Health Organization) from South Africa for the first time on 24 November 2021. It is worth noting that the first known confirmed omicron infection was from a specimen collected two weeks before it was reported, i.e., on 9 November 2021.

This variant has shown much more mutations than the existing variants and is expected to show more risk of reinfecting a patient than the others, alpha, gamma, beta, mu and delta. 

What are the symptoms of getting infected with Omicron?

Symptoms-wise, Omicron doesn’t add any significant pointers to the already existing list. However, now that most of the population across the globe has got their vaccinations done, as per WHO, the severity of the symptoms may be affected. Other factors which may impact the severity and presence of Omicron are age, prior medical conditions and history of infections.

What exactly has caused Omicron, and where does it all begin?

A virus, when it undergoes mutation, creates variants. Omicron (B.1.1.529) is the latest variant of the SARS-Cov-2 Virus. Although we do not know what has stimulated these mutations, a new variant could be more or less powerful based on its symptoms and affinity to spread.

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What are some tips to prevent Omicron infection?

Unlike other variants in the past, Omicron has mild symptoms and shows fewer adverse effects on a patient’s body. The initial data showed that although the symptoms of disease caused by Omicron were mild, there is a possibility of some cases experiencing severe health issues and should not be taken lightly when taking necessary precautions.

COVID-19 vaccine is, so far, the best prevention method to stay away and protected from any of the variants that have surfaced. Vaccines protect the population and reduce possibilities that may lead to outbursts of new variants. Protecting ourselves from infection can protect humankind from facing any further hardships.

Scientists across the globe are still in the monitoring phase of effectiveness of various vaccines. The current vaccine is expected to reduce the chances of getting admitted to a hospital and reduce the severity of infections.
CDC has recommended that anyone five or older than five years of age undergo vaccination. Also, populations above 12 years of age need to keep them updated with the vaccination and opt for booster shots as and when recommended.

In addition to the vaccines, all the preventive methods – wearing masks, exercising social distancing, washing your hands frequently and when in contact with outside or potentially virus-exposed objects, avoiding public places and taking utmost self-care are still of paramount importance. It is highly recommended that one should take necessary precautions while traveling.

Specific to the usage of masks, CDC has recommended that anyone aged two or more wear a mask while being on the roam. The masks should cover the nose and mouth in order to avoid foreign particles entering passing these organs. Masks are highly recommended near a person who has a weakened immune system or in areas with a high risk of transmission.

What are the ways of testing Omicron presence in the patient’s body?

There are two major tests carried out to detect if the infected person has an infection present in the system. 

  1. Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs)
  2. Antigen Tests

Both of these tests can confirm if you have a current infection.
Self-tests can also help you identify the presence of this variant. It is highly recommended that, when you find yourself positive after taking a self-test, you should quarantine yourself and exercise the highest precaution through consultation with a healthcare provider. If you have any queries about self-care to be taken while being infected, you should consult a healthcare provider, or the government health services on priority.
Individuals are advised to take a survey posted at
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/diagnostic-testing.html to identify the applicability of relevant tests.

A point worth noting here is that these tests are helpful only to validate if you are Covid positive or negative. They are not the tool to identify which variant has caused the infection. More information could be found through local healthcare authorities.

What’s next?

CDC is undergoing an extensive study to come up with a detailed understanding of Omicron and the best ways to deal with it. The latest news and updates will be posted to the general public as and when they are available.

To sum up, although we are not very sure of how to combat Covid-19 and eradicate its existence, as per the healthcare authorities, if we exercise a high degree of precautions as and when they are recommended, it would be much easier to curb the spread and find ways to win over these unprecedented challenging times.

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