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After a period of temporary normalcy, we are back to feeling anxious and worried about Covid-19. The new variant Omicron has clearly taken over our lives; the country reported over 2.86 lakh cases today, with the positivity rate being as high as 19.5 per cent. Ever since this variant hit us, we’ve been hearing many people call this a ‘mild version’ of Covid-19. There’s a perception that reduced hospitalizations equate to the infection being mild, which is why a lot of people continue to be casual. But is it a good idea to become complacent?
NO, not at all, says Dr Kiran G Kulirankal, Infectious Diseases Physician,
Division of Infectious Diseases, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, tells HealthShots. She adds, “We are worried about Covid-19 due to its potential to cause severe diseases. There’s no denying that the Omicron variant is relatively mild, but let’s remember Covid-19 is not a one-dimensional disease with multiple overtones. This is why the symptoms can persist for weeks to months, even after apparent recovery. This is known as long Covid.”
As mentioned above, long Covid can occur in any patient after recovery from acute Covid-19 illness, and need not be related to the severity of the disease, says Dr Kulirankal. “Considering these unforeseen issues, it’s better if one could try and prevent getting Covid-19 in the first place,” says the expert.
Moreover, India is on the brink of a third Covid-19 wave, as a consequence of the high transmissibility of Omicron, as revealed by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Initial studies suggest that the severity of the disease is milder with the Omicron variant as compared with the Delta variant. But this is not the case in high risk groups which comprises of the elderly, patients with comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease, chronic liver disease, heart diseases, patients with malignancy, and on immuno-suppression medications. They are vulnerable to increased morbidity and mortality, if infected,” says Dr Kulirankal.
With only 47 percent of the total population fully vaccinated, we have a very long way to go, says Dr Kulirankal. “Vaccination does not fully prevent the disease but halts the progression from mild to moderate, and protects us from severe forms of the disease. Increased preparedness on a national level is required to equip our hospitals to manage large number during the peak,” he adds.
Following appropriate Covid-19 protocols, avoiding unnecessary travel, washing hands and maintaining social distancing are measures we can do on an individual level to stop the spread of the disease.
All in all, it’s time to be cautious and not complacent!