What Doctors Are Saying About Omicron that ‘Spreads Like Wildfire’

India is currently witnessing an exponential rise in COVID-19 cases, triggered in part by the new variant Omicron and on Wednesday it recorded the country’s first death due to the new variant after the samples of a man who had died in Rajasthan’s Udaipur last week showed the presence of the strain.

While studies in South Africa, Scotland and England found Omicron to mostly cause milder infections than previous variants, the strain is yet to be fully studied in the Indian context.

Maria Van Kerkhove, World Health Organization’s technical lead on Covid-19, recently weighed in on the seriousness of the variant, saying, “Omicron is NOT the common cold. While some reports show a reduced risk of hospitalisation of Omicron compared to Delta, there are still far too many people infected, in hospital sick & dying from Omicron (& Delta). We can prevent infections, save lives now.”

Her tweet has found resonance among doctors and experts involved in Covid management.

Dr Faheem Younus, Chief Quality Officer and Chief of Infectious Diseases at the University of Maryland, on Thursday said that all the ventilators in his hospitals are being used by coronavirus patients currently. “100% of ventilators in my hospitals are being used by COVID patients today. Mask up. Get boosted. Avoid gatherings,” he said.

Back home, senior surgeon Arvinder Singh Soin warned, “Remember, mild is a relative term. Mild for you may not be mild for someone you spread the virus to.”

“Sure, Omicron may well end up being milder in terms of disease severity. But with such increased transmissibility — and healthcare workers out sick — the burden on our hospitals will not be as mild. So wear a mask. Or two!”

“Masks — wear & distribute N95s if you can. Double mask if possible. We are dealing with a variant that spreads like wildfire,” he added.

India on Thursday reported a single-day spike of 90,928 fresh Covid-19 cases and 325 deaths. The daily positivity rate stood at 6.43%. The active caseload in the country reached 2,85,401, while 19,206 recoveries were recorded in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the Omicron tally in the country reached 2,630, with Maharashtra (797) topping the count, followed by Delhi (465), Rajasthan (236) and Kerala (234). On Wednesday, the Centre confirmed the first Omicron-related death in the country — a 74-year-old man with comorbidities, who succumbed to the virus last week in Rajasthan’s Udaipur.

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