The Omicron coronavirus variant is steadily spreading across the world and putting researchers on their toes like in late 2019 and early 2020 when Covid-19 started in Wuhan, China.
While the coronavirus itself started in China, the Omicron variant of the virus was first reported in South Africa on November 24, 2021.
A South African doctor, Angelique Coetzee was alerted to a new variant of the virus when patients visited her private hospital in Pretoria with Covid-19 symptoms that were unusual.
In an interview with Telegraph, the doctor said those who first visited her hospital with unusual coronavirus symptoms complained of intense fatigue, high pulse rate, but did not suffer the loss of taste or smell.
She reported the unusual symptoms to the country’s vaccine advisory committee after a family of four tested positive for Covid-19 with complete exhaustion on November 18, 2021.
Then on November 24, South Africa health authorities reported the Omicron coronavirus variant also known as B.1.1.529 variant to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The new variant was detected in an era when the country was battling with the peak of the Delta variant. As the country is battling with the new reality of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the Delta variant is still spreading steadily.
Here are some key information the World Health Organization (WHO) has about the Omicron coronavirus variant
- 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.
- It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.
- There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.
- All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key.
- Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but the information is limited.
- WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on existing countermeasures, including vaccines.
- The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.
- Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.
The Omicron virus is on the rise
The Omicron coronavirus variant is on the rise across the world according to the latest reports.
For instance, on Sunday, November 28, Netherlands, Denmark, and Australia confirmed cases of the variant in the country.
The new variant has been confirmed in the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and Italy. Botswana and Hong Kong have reported cases of the virus. While a case is being suspected in the Czech Republic.
The Omicron coronavirus variant has forced Israel to ban all foreigners from entering the country from midnight on Sunday until the next 14 days. Japan has also done the same.
Due to the rising cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant, most countries in Europe have imposed travel restrictions on travelers from Southern Africa.
It is getting so critical that the Netherlands have extended partial lockdown in the country from Sunday night due to the surge in the virus.
Omicron could halt football like Covid-19
Recall that when the coronavirus that started in Wuhan, China became a global pandemic in 2020, all major football leagues in the world were halted in February 2020.
Due to the pandemic, stadiums remained locked for about three months before the action began to return in parts.
Even after government authorities gave the leagues the go-ahead to resume, most games were behind closed doors and under strict coronavirus protocol.
It was until recently that most stadiums in the world were allowed to host spectators close to full capacity.
To date, most football clubs are still battling to recover from the financial implication of not playing football for months and then playing behind closed doors.
Hence, at the rate the Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading across the world, football could be halted again if more effort is not made to prevent the spread of the virus.