COVID-19: Omicron, New Variant On the Block

Variants are assigned a Greek letter by the WHO so that a variant isn’t associated with a particular location where it was first detected.


Omicron which was initially referred to as B.1.1.529 was designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday, November 26. Variants are assigned a Greek letter by the WHO so that a variant isn’t associated with a particular location where it was first detected.

What Is Omicron?

This COVID-19 variant was first reported in South Africa on Tuesday, November 23, claim accounts. It has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Reports claim that the mutations are concerning since “preliminary evidence claims an increased risk of reinfection with this variant”.

WHO has designated it as a variant of concern. It is reported to have spread to over a dozen countries. The rising number of cases in South Africa has been attributed to the Omicron variant. Some narratives claim that the variant was seen in Botswana on November 11.

Since the variant has over 30 mutations on its spike protein, it has raised concerns. These concerns entail the fact that antibodies from earlier infections or vaccination could no longer be matched, cited accounts.

Presently, the WHO is coordinating with researchers internationally to better understand the Omicron variant.

What are its symptoms? What actions have been recommended?

Some experts claim that it causes mild infection, 2-3 days of mild muscle pain, extreme tiredness, dry cough and scratchy throat. The most effective to hinder the spread of the COVID-19 virus is keeping a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others wear a mask, opening windows to enhance ventilation, avoiding poorly ventilated or crowded spaces, practise hand hygiene, coughing or sneezing into a bent elbow or tissue and get vaccinated.

Does it affect those vaccinated?

WHO is trying to ascertain this, it has warned about the possibility of reinfection. The WHO states that it isn’t clear whether the said variant is more transmissible, in contrast to other variants that include the Delta variant. The authority in its statement added that presently there is no information suggesting that symptoms associated with the new variant differ from those of others.

Which countries have reported Omicron cases?

According to reports, some countries that have reported the Omicron case include:

  • Australia
  • Italy
  • Germany
  • The Netherlands
  • United Kingdom
  • Israel
  • Hong Kong
  • Botswana
  • Belgium
  • Switzerland
  • Canada

Those arriving in India from countries wherein the new variant has been reported include the filling of a self-declaration form, negative RT-PCR test. Those coming from “at-risk” countries will have to provide RT-PCR test samples in India. Those found positive will have to quarantine and samples will be sent for genome sequencing. However, those who test negative will have to home quarantine for a week.

Additionally, random sampling will be done of those coming from those countries not considered “at-risk”. Those coming from countries not considered at risk and have tested negative will have to monitor themselves for nearly two weeks.

Amid concerns of the new variant, Maharashtra has brought in certain restrictions that people have been asked to adhere to.

Also Read: Maharashtra: Amid Omicron Concerns, Vaccination Numbers Increase

MumbaiLive would like to send you latest news updates