Friday, January 21

Omicron: What are the symptoms of the new variant?

According to the first observations of the South African health authorities, the new variant of Covid-19, Omicron, would present “mild symptoms” but different from the traditional Covid.

Angelique Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association, confides that her patients infected with the variant presented with “extreme fatigue”. Of these, the majority were men under the age of 40 and just under half were vaccinated.

Beyond this severe fatigue, the sick patients suffered from stiffness, a dry cough or “a itchy throat”. A minority presented with a low fever. It is thanks to his observations that Dr. Coetzee was able to alert the health authorities on November 18, 2021, by presenting them with a “clinical picture not corresponding to Delta”.

For the moment, the Omicron variant would not cause anosmia (loss of smell) or ageusia (loss of taste) in infected people, even though it is a recognized symptom of Covid- 19 since 2020. This variant would not prevent being asymptomatic either.


However, Dr. Coetzee recalls that there is still very little information on the dangerousness of this new variant. For now, the president of the South African Medical Association calls for caution. “I’m not saying that there won’t be serious illnesses,” she explains, but “so far, even the patients we’ve seen who weren’t vaccinated have mild symptoms.”

The variant B.1.1.529, baptized by the WHO, Omicron, is considered by the latter as “worrying” because of its high transmissibility and the probable mutations. It sparked panic, with many countries deciding within hours to ban travelers from southern Africa on their territory.

For the doctor, “a lot of people in Europe have this virus, but it has not been detected very much because we were on the lookout for the symptoms of the Delta”. Several countries have reported cases of Omicron, notably in Belgium, Italy, Great Britain or Germany.

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