Classified as a Variant of Concern (VOC) by the World Health Organisation, the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of COVID-19 in several countries in a very short time. In India, the mutation has affected over 3000 people over 26 states so far and is likely to peak in February, says the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India.
Though it seems that the variant is causing lesser hospitalisation rates, we must not become lax in our vigilance. Existing vaccines can still offer protection against severity of the disease, hospitalisation and death, but we mustn't become lax in our vigilance as vaccinated or previously infected individuals may still contract the virus. Omicron symptoms usually manifest by the third day of contraction, so go to a doctor and follow necessary protocols if you have been exposed to a patient and schedule an RT-PCR test if you are displaying symptoms.
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In case of exposure to someone with Omicron:
- Continue using your mask, sanitiser and washing your hands.
- Self-quarantine at home for 14 days or until the infected person tests negative again.
- Schedule an RT-PCR test if you display symptoms such as itchy throat, low-grade fever, headache, body aches, stuffy nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or night sweats.
- Monitor your fever and blood oxygen levels regularly.
It is time to self-isolate if:
- You live with a COVID-19 patient.
- You have been in direct physical contact with a person with COVID-19 without or with a breach of PPE protection.
- You have shared a close environment or shared face-to-face contact with an infected individual within one metre distance.
The best way to home quarantine is by:
- Restricting your movement within your house.
- Sanitising and not sharing clothes, utensils and space with others.
- Keeping away from the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with comorbidities.
- Boycotting all social gatherings.
You must seek medical attention when:
- You have a fever of more than 100°F for 3 days or more.
- You have difficulty breathing.
- Your oxygen saturation has dipped (SpO2 ≤ 93% on room air at least 3 readings within 1 hour OR respiratory rate >24/ min).
- You have persistent pain/pressure in your chest.
- You feel confusion, severe fatigue and myalgia (muscle pain).