Omicron variant: What You Need to Know?

The highly transmissible Omicron variant of COVID-19 is driving an unprecedented surge of infections globally. The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant in countries with documented community transmission, with a doubling time of 2-3 days. The overall risk related to this new variant remains very high.
When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes. New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the vaccine when available to them and continue to follow existing advice on preventing the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing and keeping indoor areas well ventilated.

Omicron variant is more contagious than previous variants. However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants. Early findings suggest that there is a reduced risk of hospitalization for Omicron compared to the Delta variant. But WHO warns that it should not be dismissed as “mild”. Increased transmission is expected to lead to more hospitalizations. That increase causes strain on frontline workers and healthcare systems, which in turn can result in more deaths.

How can I protect myself and my family against the Omicron variant?
The most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to:
• Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Make sure that your hands are clean when you put on and remove your mask.
• Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others.
• Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces.
• Open windows to improve ventilation indoors.
• Wash your hands regularly.
• When it’s your turn, get vaccinated. WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.

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