1st of December, 2021. Guyana, South AmericaLast updated: December 1, 2021 at 15:15 pm
Many Guyanese are worried that the Omicron strain of the Covid-19 virus has been confirmed in Guyana’s southern neighbor, Brazil, and some are calling for a shutdown of flights from Brazil as well as a closure of the border at Region 9. So far, Brazil has confirmed at least 5 cases of the Omicron strain with many more suspected.
While many countries have closed their airports and borders over fears of the Omicron strain, closing the Guyana/Brazil border might not be necessary since, according to the WHO and doctors and scientists around the world, the symptoms produced in an individual infected by the Omicron strain are very mild.
Despite the impression given by the initial media frenzy, the Omicron variant produces very light symptoms in the person it infects, and, in most cases, is not life-threatening. However, the WHO listed Omicron as a variant for concern because of its ability to spread quickly. It was determined that the Omicron strain is considerably more easily transmissible than the original Covid-19 virus. However, it is nowhere as dangerous.
According to South African Doctor, Angelique Coetzee, the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in a 33-year old male in South Africa. He presented with symptoms of lethargy, body aches, and headaches. He had an itchy throat and a dry cough, but no sore throat, and no loss of taste or smell. His case did not warrant hospitalization and he recovered shortly after. A number of other South Africans presented with the same symptoms and were tested positive for the Omicron variant, but their symptoms were very mild and didn’t require hospitalization.
Health officials advise, however, that although the current vaccines may not prevent the symptoms of the Omicron variant completely, it may lessen the severity of disease considerably.. Dr. Unben Pillay, a general practitioner in Gauteng Province, South Africa, said that most patients with the Omicron variant have been treated at home, and that the “vaccinated fair better than the unvaccinated.”
Health officials also warn that the Omicron variant may produce more severe disease in the elderly. However, there is not enough data on this since, thankfully, to date, most of the Omicron cases were people in their 20s and 30s.
The WHO has said it may take weeks or days to understand how the variant may affect diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.