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Omicron Very Different From Delta, Beta COVID Variants: South African Dr Angelique Coetzee

Two cases of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron have been detected in India’s Karnataka, both the patients are showing mild symptoms

Omicron Variant Does Not Escape RT-PCR And RAT, Centre Tells States As It Asks Them To Ramp Up Testing
The symptoms of COVID-19 variant Omicron are not same as that of Delta, said Dr Angelique Coetzee
  • Dr Angelique Coetzee first raised an alarm about new COVID variant Omicron
  • Dr Coetzee pointed out that Omicron has more than 30 mutations
  • RT-PCR tests will be able to pick up Omicron: Dr Coetzee

Pretoria: The South African doctor who first raised an alarm over Omicron states that the new coronavirus strain has significantly more mutations, as compared to the Delta or Beta variants of COVID-19 which can be easily missed if one is not clinically aware of its symptoms. In an exclusive interview with ANI, Dr Angelique Coetzee said: “I think that this variant has been around for some time. Maybe not in South Africa but in other countries because other countries were showing a high rise in their number of infections.”

Also Read: Toxic Mix Of Low COVID-19 Vaccination And Testing A Recipe For Amplifying Variants: WHO Chief

If you are not clinically aware of the symptoms then you will easily miss the symptoms. That would go on and spread the virus to the rest of the community, said the doctor who chairs the South African Medical Association.

Dr Coetzee pointed out that Omicron has more than 30 mutations.

It’s very different from Delta or Beta variant in mutations. When our scientists announced this variant, they made it clear that they don’t know everything about it yet. They are just sequencing it. What we do know at this time is that RT-PCR tests will be able to pick it up, Rapid Tests will be able to confirm that you’ve COVID and if you look at clinical symptoms and that symptom isn’t the same as Delta, you can safely assume it’s Omicron, she added.

On being asked about her first reaction on discovering the new variant, the South African doctor said she was shocked when she found about the variant.

Also Read: Genome Sequencing Can Confirm Presence Of COVID-19 Variant Omicron: Expert

I didn’t expect it. We didn’t have many cases in quite a few weeks. Our covid infection in South Africa was less than one per cent, the expert said.

“We did expect a fourth wave but the end of December and the beginning of January. So this was premature to ask. So I just decided to test a patient coming in with symptoms that were not typical of a normal viral infection,” said Dr Coetzee.

I thought it may be a viral infection. But…it was COVID positive. Specifically, on the 18th (November) I saw more cases with the same symptoms. Then I alerted the advisory committee. And last week then it was confirmed that South Africa saw a new variant.

Earlier on Thursday, two Covid-19 cases of the Omicron variant were detected in India, both from Karnataka, in the first confirmation of the coronavirus strain within the country’s borders that has triggered global alarm. All the primary and secondary contacts of the two males aged 46 and 66, who contracted the variant have been identified and are being monitored and COVID-protocols are being followed, the Union Health Ministry said.

Also Read: Omicron Variant Does Not Escape RT-PCR And RAT, Centre Tells States As It Asks Them To Ramp Up Testing

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity,  that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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