With Delhi’s first Omicron case detected in a Tanzania returnee on Sunday, India now has five cases of the new variant in total. All the cases have reported mild symptoms. The 37-year-old man, who was admitted in the hospital on December 2, had a sore throat, weakness and body ache, LNJP MP Dr Suresh Kumar said.
South African doctors who first dealt with Omicron patients said that the variant has been producing different symptoms from the previous ones. 17 other COVID-19 patients and six of their contacts admitted to LNJP are majorly asymptomatic.
Although research on Omicron is still at nascent stages and not much is known about the variant, the cases reported in India and other countries indicate that the symptoms are more like common cold and nothing like Covid-19 cases, caused by other variants.
Angelique Coetzee, chairperson of the South African Medical Association, who first alerted the South Africa government about the new variant reported the unfamiliar symptoms brought by Omicron. This new characteristic might be because of its mutation, scientists say. The variant might have picked up a snippet of genetic material from another virus, probably a common cold virus.
Director of Tata Institute for Genetics and Society and former Chief of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Dr Rakesh Mishra, however suggests that people could assume they have a common cold and miss out on testing. “People are likely to confuse this with the common cold as there is no breathing trouble or loss of smell or taste, which may increase its spread,” Mishra said.
About 5 Omicron Infected Patients
• India’s first Omicron case was a 66-year-old South African national who left the country after providing a negative Covid-19 report from a private lab. The patient first tested positive on November 20, and three days later tested negative. He was completely asymptomatic.
• The second Omicron case in India is 46-year-old doctor with no history of international travel. On November 21, the doctor, an anesthesiologist, reported mild symptoms and was tested. His sample was sent for genome sequencing because his report had a low CT value, indicating a very high viral load, and Omicron was confirmed.
• The third Omicron case in India is a 72-year-old man from Zimbabwe who arrived in Gujarat’s Jamnagar. In terms of symptoms, the 72-year-old man had a sore throat and weakness.
• A 33-year-old marine engineer became the fourth Omicron patient. He was not vaccinated because he had been on the ship since April, according to a Kalyan Dombivili Municipal Corporation official. On November 24, he developed a mild fever.
• The latest is a a 37-year-old man who arrived in Delhi from Tanzania, making it the first case of the new COVID-19 variant in the national capital. “He was admitted to the hospital on December 2 with mild symptoms sore throat, fever and body ache," a doctor said.
Delta variant’s symptoms
Infections caused by Delta variant showed different symptoms. According to medical experts, the common symptoms in people infected with delta variant are fever, headache, sore throat and runny nose. Once the virus enters the body, the illness can last as long as the original virus, the duration of which is two weeks. The duration can be longer depending on the severity of the infection.
Will Omicron cause severe infections?
The World Health Organization said it is not yet clear whether the newly-detected coronavirus variant Omicron is more transmissible or causes more severe disease compared to other variants, including the highly-transmissible and globally prevalent Delta variant. There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants, the WHO said.
It added that initial reported infections were among university studies — 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.