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All you need to know about the new Omicron variant of COVID-19

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New lockdowns, travel restrictions, rise in stock markets, here comes a new variant. On the 24th of November 2021, a new variant of the COVID-19 virus was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa. This variant was named the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and happens to be the 12th variant of the SAR-COV-2 virus following the Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant, Beta (B.1.351) variant, Gamma (P.1) variant, Delta (B.1.617.2) variant and seven other variants.

According to Wikipedia, the B.1.1.529 virus was named Omicron by the World Health Organization and this name was derived from the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet.

What is the Omicron variant?

Credit: Canva

A variant usually occurs because of the constantly changing nature of a virus. This variance causes different forms of illness after invading into the body system depending on the type. The variant is causing a rise in infections in South Africa, Canada, Asia, Europe, Germany and about twenty other countries. This virus was declared by the World Health Organization (WHO) to be a variant of concern. It causes common cold and is highly contagious.

The Omicron virus as a variant of concern has fast and easy access to cells and also has a lot (about 30 to 60) of mutations. In immune-compromised persons and areas of low surveillance, mutations result in severity and easy spread of this infection.

Signs and symptoms of the omicron variant infection

  • Body aches and pains
  • Muscle pains especially in the lower back
  • Headache
  • Tiredness lasting for about 1 or 2 days
  • Slight sore throat
  • Fever
  • Night sweats

Tests for Omicron variant

The tests for Omicron variant have been proven to be more effective after 24 hours to 5 days of initial notice of disease symptoms. Tests available for the Omicron variant include:

  1. The PCR test: The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is a test done to detect presence of genetic materials from a specific organism such as a virus. This type of test is usually fast and accurate.
  1. Antigen-based rapid diagnostic test: This employs the use of medical device products of high technology used in clinics.

Transmission of the Omicron variant

While there is no absolute clue to the source of the Omicron variant, this infection can likely be transferred from an infected person to those around.

Preventive measures against the Omicron variant

Credit: Canva

1.   Vaccination

Studies have shown that vaccination together with stable structures provide strong protection against the Omicron infection. Antiviral drugs such as Remdesivir have been effective on treatment of viral infections.

READ 10 IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS VACCINE

2.   Masking up

Appropriate use of face masks has also been helpful in preventing the spread of the Omicron infection. Ensure you take your face masks and wear them properly.

3.   Social distancing

Maintaining a distance of 1 or 2 meters from other people is helpful in curbing the spread of the Omicron infection.

READ TOP 7 GUIDES TO SOCIAL DISTANCING

4.   Hand washing

Regular hand washing and use of alcohol-based sanitizers reduces the spread of germs. You can learn more about the place of HANDWASHING AND COVID-19: HOW TO WASH YOUR HANDS PROPERLY

5.   Improve ventilation and avoid crowded areas

Stuffy rooms and areas give ample opportunity for the spread of pathogens. Ensuring windows are open helps to improve ventilation. Crowded areas must also be avoided to prevent the spread of this infection.

Conclusion

Credit: Canva

The emergence of the new Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus presenting with muscle pains, headache, sore throats and fever has raised a cause for alarm but could still be put to check by regular hand washing, complete vaccination, social distancing and avoiding crowded areas. From the foregoing, the sad reality is that COVID-19 and its variants may not disappear as fast as we may wish. COVID is here to stay, therefore, it is wise to learn practical ways of Moving Forward from the Impact of the Corona Virus.

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Nurse Ezinne is passionate writer whose goal is to help individuals take charge of their health and wellbeing.

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