South African Doctor Says Patient With Omicron Variant Has Very Mild Symptoms, Can Be Treated At Home
Illustration of COVID-19 vaccination in Africa. (Wikimedia Commons/Davyimage)

JAKARTA - A South African doctor who was one of the first to suspect a different strain of coronavirus among patients, said on Sunday the symptoms of the Omicron variant have so far been mild and can be treated at home.

Dr. Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of the South African Medical Association told Reuters on November 18 she saw seven patients at her clinic who had symptoms that differed from the dominant Delta variant, although "very mild".

Now called Omicron by the World Health Organization (WHO), the variant was detected and announced by South Africa's National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) on November 25 from samples taken in laboratories from November 14 to November 16.

Coetzee said a patient on Nov. 18 reported at his clinic "very tired" for two days with body aches and headaches.

"The symptoms at that stage are strongly associated with normal viral infections. And since we haven't seen COVID-19 for the past eight to 10 weeks, we decided to do a test," she said, adding that the patient and her family turned out to be positive, cited from Reuters, November 29

That same day, more patients came in with the same symptoms, that's when he realized there was "something else going on." Since then, he sees two to three patients every day.

"We've seen a lot of Delta patients during the third wave. And this doesn't fit the clinical picture," she explained, adding he notified the NICD the same day of her clinical results.

"Most of them are seeing very, very mild symptoms and so far no one has admitted patients for surgery. We have been able to treat these patients conservatively at home," she said.

Coetzee, who is also on the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said unlike Delta so far, patients have not reported any loss of smell or taste and no major drop in oxygen levels with the new variant.

In her experience so far, the variant affects people 40 years of age or younger. Nearly half of the patients with Omicron symptoms he treats are not vaccinated.

"The most dominant clinical complaint is severe fatigue for a day or two. With them, headaches and body aches," she said.

To note, news of a new variant emerging from South Africa sparked a swift reaction from several countries, including the UK, which on Friday imposed travel bans on several southern African countries with immediate effect, a decision South Africa strongly opposes.

Since Friday, many countries have also banned air travel to and from South Africa, including the United States, other European countries, and several Asian countries.

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