Omicron causing mild disease, few hospitalisations, says doctor who tracked variant first

omicron updates, omicron risk, omicron variant, covid, coronavirus, angelique coetzee

Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who was instrumental in the detection of Omicron, said the Covid-19 variant is fast spreading, but the current clinical picture at primary health care facilities is of mild disease predominantly and few hospital admissions.

Coetzee, who is also the chair of the South African Medical Association, told ET over email that more will be known about the variant within the next 10-12 days.

“…but, for now, not more (serious) than Delta, clinical picture (was) that of mild disease in a majority of cases,” Coetzee said. “It might be more transmissible than Delta.”

Coetzee said she hasn’t seen children to have any higher risk compared with adults due to Omicron.

“In the beginning of any wave, children are always most affected, who then become the spreaders to older patients,” she said.

Coetzee advised governments to focus on testing.

“Our people go for testing, we asked them to test if they have any, or even remotely, signs of any upper respiratory disease,” she said.

Coetzee said giving a booster dose for eligible people and vaccinating kids and adolescents may help countries like India to contain the Omicron variant. Early studies on Omicron in South Africa suggest that the variant may be more transmissible and have a higher risk of reinfection compared with the Delta and Beta variants of the coronavirus.

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