Talking to news agency AFP, Dr Angelique Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, said that the new variant was causing “unfamiliar symptoms in patients”. Dr Angelique Coetzee, was the doctor who first became aware of the new strain Omicron, a variant of COVID-19
As per a news report, Dr Coetzee said the symptoms included extreme tiredness, mild muscle aches, a scratchy throat and dry cough, while only a few of the cases showed high fever.
Mild muscle aches
Some individuals are asymptomatic
Dr Coetzee observed that the patients she treated were able to completely recover without the need to be hospitalised.
It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.
Severity of disease:
It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta. Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.
Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (i.e., people who have previously had Covid 19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited. More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks.
Effectiveness of vaccines
WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating virus, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.