With Victoria and NSW recording cases at an alarming rate, states like Queensland are also set to witness a large number of cases as we reach New Year’s. Here’s what we currently know about the Omicron variant in bite-sized packages:
How is it any different from the older versions of COVID-19?
The Omicron variant is reported to be more infectious than the delta variant and several others. Countries such as South Africa, the UK, and Denmark, have Omicron cases doubling themselves in just two days. This level of contagiousness was not witnessed with any previous variant.
What are the symptoms?
Apart from the loss of taste and smell which were the most ‘popular’ identifiers of the disease, data from South Africa shows that the Omicron variant is less severe but has all the notoriety of the previous variants. Some patients have reported itchy eyes and severe headaches. Although the symptoms are manageable and not as bad as the second wave, the high level of infections may be overwhelming for the health system.
What is Australia’s status with the Omicron?
The cases tally is ever increasing and the health system is repping itself for the predicted record number of cases in the coming days. NSW recorded 2,500 new cases yesterday and Victoria came in second with 1,300 new cases. Australia is currently alert to the dangers of the variant but is still in the preliminary stages where it cannot comment on the severity and the extent of the Omicron variant.
What about vaccines?
Yes, getting a vaccine was all that the public could do during the small break that we got from the COVID-19 to prepare ourselves for the future. However, there have been some records of the Omicron skipping the vaccine. The high number of vaccinations in Australia is a positive sign though. In South Africa, a meagre 38% have been vaccinated with the two doses and this may have been one of the factors for the alarming rates. Also, boosters have proven to be very effective against the new variant.
Let’s wait and see. The Chief Health Minister of Queensland, for example, has only commented on the high infections and what kind of numbers we might be seeing in the next week or so. Apart from that, Australia, albeit well-prepared, is still much in the dark with the predictions.