The coronavirus mutation Omicron is concerning. "This is a very unusual constellation of changes across the SARS-CoV-2 genome with greater than 30 of them in the important spike protein, which is the business end of the virus, particularly in its receptor binding domain, where there were about 10 mutations there," says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. "This mutational profile is very different from other variants of interest and concern. And although some mutations are also found in Delta, this is not Delta—it's something different. And these mutations have been associated with increased transmissibility and immune innovation. Whereas other of the mutations have not yet been characterized as to their functional capability."
And while very little is known, one doctor on the frontlines, Dr. Angelique Coetzee, appeared on CNN's New Day this morning to share the symptoms she is seeing in South Africa, and gave advice about how you can stay safe. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Doctor Said Right Now, It's Primarily Young People Getting Omicron in South Africa
"The public needs to understand what we currently are seeing it's very early days," said Dr. Angelique Coetzee. "So if you look at the severity and especially in the beginning of any wave, it's normally not that severe. It's normally the younger people that get infected and then from there on it will spread and go further. So hopefully we can keep the clinical picture as it is. If we see patients are moderate, they're not severely ill."
Doctor Said the Majority of Cases She's Seeing are Mild—but Again, in Young People, They Often Are
She added: "I'm also part of a group of about eight doctors and only and only two patients died in the past 24 hours. I'm not sure about that those patients' symptoms, but the majority of what we are presenting to primary health care practitioners are extremely mild—mild to moderate. So these patients, it means they don't need to be hospitalized for now."
Doctor Said Here is When to See Your Own Doctor About a Possible Omicron Infection
"We try to get the message out there to the world to say, listen, we not say this is not going to be a disease going forward that's going to cause a severe disease. It will cause severe disease. But if" she can get you to understand that "If I feel a bit fatigue for a day or two…not the fatigue that you usually feel, this is a different type of fatigue with a bit of a scratchy throat and a bit of a body ache and pain—we call it normally malaise. So I don't feel generally well—go and see your doctor," Dr. Coetzee told CNN.
Doctor Said Here's When to Test for Omicron
"And then we need to tell the doctors, you're not going to see a very sick patient sitting in front of you. Test the patient, right? So if you can taste and trace and we can get the patients to understand that it's mild symptoms for now, but go and see a healthcare facility. Go and get yourself checked out. If you can get that message out to the world, it means that we would most probably going forward have less severe cases," said Dr. Coetzee.
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.