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Social Distancing And Masking Is The Essence Of Getting Over The Omicron: Expert

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is not that deadly but, it is spreading fast so you have a humongous volume of patients, says Dr Jalil Parkar, Senior Pulmonary Consultant at Lilavati Hospital

Social Distancing And Masking Is The Essence Of Getting Over The Omicron: Expert
SARS-CoV-2 will slowly die its own death: Dr Jalil Parkar, Senior Pulmonary Consultant at Lilavati Hospital
Highlights
  • India is currently witnessing a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • India has reported over 2,600 cases of the Omicron variant
  • Many of the Omicron patients can be treated at home: Dr Jalil Parkar

New Delhi: India’s Omicron tally crossed the 3,000 mark on Friday (January 7) with 1,199 patients reported to have recovered. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is said to be highly transmissible which is evident with an upsurge in the cases in the country. According to Dr NK Arora, Head, COVID Task Force, India is in the third wave of the pandemic. To get a better understanding of the symptoms and treatment for this variant better, Banega Swasth India spoke to Dr Jalil Parkar, Senior Pulmonary Consultant at Lilavati Hospital.

Also Read: COVID-19 Third Wave In India: Omicron Is Becoming A Dominant Strain, Said Dr NK Arora, Covid Task Force Head

Clearing the basics of the disease caused by the new variant, Dr Parkar began by explaining symptoms and said,

The common symptoms people are expressing are severe sore throat, headache, body ache, fatigue and fever for two to three days. This has been going on for the last four months and slowly and steadily it has increased. Many of us can be treated at home especially those who are vaccinated. It is only the dilapidated and the elderly having severe comorbidities who may require hospitalisation if the oxygen becomes low or the fever persists.

When asked about the impact of the Omicron on children under 5, Dr Parkar said,

As far as the data is available right now, the effect is not so much but, yes, in the US, they have come across children who have got Omicron. We have to test all suspected COVID patients of Omicron which we are not doing and is not even doable.

Though the Omicron variant is highly infectious, it is said that most of the patients develop mild or asymptomatic disease which according to the experts can be treated at home. In its revised guidelines for home isolation of mild or asymptomatic COVID-19 cases dated January 5, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has reduced the number of isolation days. Patients under home isolation can end isolation after at least seven days have passed from testing positive and if there is no fever for three days in a row. They will continue to wear masks. There is no need for re-testing after the home isolation ends. Earlier, home isolation ended after 10 days from the onset of symptoms.

Also Read: COVID-19 Third Wave: Health Ministry Issues Revised Guidelines For Home Isolation Of Mild, Asymptomatic Patients

Distance Yourself And Wear A Mask – The Two Ways To Fight Omicron

Talking about the ways to fight the Omicron variant, Dr Parkar simply recommended cooperating with the health authorities and following COVID appropriate behaviour. He said,

Wearing a face mask and not being in clusters is the essence of getting over the omicron and also, taking treatment at home. If you don’t take treatment at home, the ones who will require oxygen or hospitalisation, won’t be able to get that service.

Based on his experience of seeing patients, Dr Parkar said that the Omicron variant is not that severe. We are not finding patients who are requiring oxygen or ventilators in general, he said.

It is not that deadly but, at the same time, it is spreading very fast so you have a humongous volume of patients. The numbers have increased and which is why bed occupancy has started increasing and the fear and anxiety are adding on to people. They don’t want to go home; they want to remain in the hospital for more than 24 hours to observe, he said.

Also Read: COVID-19: WHO Chief Scientist Calls For An Urgent Ramping Up Of Teleconsultation Services To Tackle The Third Wave In India

Is Booster Dose The Way Out Of Omicron?

A booster dose which is being called a precautionary dose in India will be given to healthcare workers and senior citizens with comorbidities starting January 10. Various countries have also started giving a booster dose. Sharing his thoughts on the same, Dr Parkar said,

If the booster dose is going to help you to a certain extent, if not to its fullest, why not take it because what other weapon do you have?

In a media briefing on January 5, the government made it clear that an individual will get a booster dose of the same vaccine as the first two doses. This essentially means, if someone has received the doses of Covaxin, the booster dose will also be of Covaxin. There will be no mix and match for a booster dose. Is the decision right considering the spread of the new variant?

All over the world, they have said that mix and match of vaccines give you better immunity. I really don’t know why this decision has been taken, said Dr Parkar.

While signing off, Dr Parkar briefly spoke about the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and if there is any hope of it. He said,

It will slowly die its own death. I don’t think we should bother much but at the same time, we should see that our health system is upgraded to whatever best we can in these trying times. By the year end we should get over it.

Also Read: Third COVID-19 Wave In India: Where Do We Stand And What’s The Road Ahead?

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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