As per World Health Organisation (WHO), the definition for Omicron is clear- signs of upper respiratory tract infection, no shortness of breath, dyspnea, or any abnormal chest X-ray, unlike Delta variant infection. This makes Omicron largely treatable at home, said, Dr Angelique Coetzee, South Africa-based general practitioner who first identified Omicron variant in patients.
Less than one-third of patients with Omicron were severe in hospitals, with Delta, on July 8, there were 19,900 in hospitals, and on July 14, 17,000 in high-care and ICUs, however, with Omicron on December 17, we had 23,000 cases per day, 528 in high-care and 7,900 in hospitals, recalls Dr Coetzee.
In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, Coetzee pointed out that from the data on January 7, we saw that ICU admissions among the 70-plus age group were 270 for the past two weeks, ventilations: 135, and 91 deaths, among the 60-69 age group, hospitalisations were around 35 per cent. In the 70-plus age group, the hospitalisation was 49 per cent, 50 to 59 was 29 per cent, 40 to 49 was 17 per cent and from 18 to 39 it was 11 per cent. That was the status of hospitalisation for two weeks that was released on January 10. Not only hospitalisation, but the death rate is also much lower during Omicron, while the average is about 100. With Delta, we had seen a huge increase in death rates.
She also pointed out that the irresponsible use of antibiotics during these viral infections might lead to a bacterial pandemic and that would kill us.
Further talking about if there is an increase in infection among children during Omicron as compared to Delta, Coetzee told IE, yes, there was an increase in the beginning, that’s always in any wave- children first. So for now, at this stage, even looking at the data, there are not really anyone (children) in the hospital and we don’t see children getting that sick anymore.
Post deadly second wave, a lot of people went back to hospitals due to repeated cases of breathlessness, fatigue, and mucormycosis, what doctors pointed as long covid, responding to it, Coetzee said, that there will definitely be a few cases with long Covid with Omicron for those people who have been on the ventilator and discharged. But, so far, we haven’t really had any experience with that.
She also added that during Omicron, we have done away with our restrictions on movement (of people), closing of restaurants, sale of alcohol, but mask-wearing is still compulsory, there’s still a cap on big gatherings.