Rapid spread of Omicron is a worrying factor, say experts

‘COVID appropriate behaviour will go a long way in checking the spread of coronavirus’

The new variant Omicron has the capability of spreading rapidly and affecting thousands and even lakhs of persons within a short time. Though the virulence of Omicron is comparatively low, the rapid spread is a worrying factor, K. Phanendar, pulmonologist, and P.J. Srinivas, epidemiologist, have said.

They were speaking at an awareness programme, organised by the Praja Arogya Vedika (PAV) on ‘COVID-19 third wave’, at the Public Library here on Sunday. They said that only COVID appropriate behaviour and observing protocols like wearing masks, avoiding mass gatherings and hand hygiene would go a long way in checking the spread of the virus. Dr. Phanendar said that people giving up the ‘new normal’ (observing COVID protocols) and returning back to ‘normal’ was the big mistake, which has led to a risky situation.

Hospitals would not be able to accommodate more patients as the transmission rate of Omicron was very high. The non-availability of adequate medical care and services due to overcrowding of hospitals could even result in deaths, he said. He suggested that the person should go for the RTPCR test by the end of the first week after symptoms were seen.

Early testing

Getting tested in the first week and taking symptomatic treatment with drugs and home isolation would result in early recovery, he added. The symptoms normally seen during the first week include mild fever, headache and rash. Waiting till the second week could result in the virus affecting the lungs and causing breathlessness and may require hospitalisation, Dr. Phanendar said. This should be avoided to prevent complications and possible spread of the virus, he said.

Booster dose

Dr. Phanendar said that the risk of hospitalisation would be greatly minimised in those who have taken the first and second doses of the vaccine. A booster dose after six to nine months, after the second dose, could save them from the impact of the impending third wave, he added.

Dr. Srinivas explained that travel should be avoided to the extent possible, and those who do not have another option, should follow all protocols. They should also be responsible citizens and ensure that others also wear masks and observe social distance to check spread of the virus. Those with comorbidities should be extra careful and should go for testing. The rules were the same for the three waves, he said.

PAV general secretary T. Kameswara Rao said that genome lab was started in Vijayawada recently and appealed to the State government to start similar labs in Visakhapatnam and Kurnool or Tirupati. He said that the Central government should reopen public sector pharma companies, which were closed in the past, and permit them to go for mass production of vaccines in view of the health emergency.

PAV would organise awareness campaigns at Rythu Bazaars to educate the public, he added.

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