Health talk: Covid-19: Remain vigilant as Omicron roams

Health & Fitness
Zimbabwe has entered the 4th wave of Covid-19 with South Africa leading in terms of both incidence and prevalence.

With Dr Johannes Marisa

On November 26 2021, the World Health Organisation designated the Omicron as a virus of concern on the advice of the WHO’ s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution. What was to follow was a tirade of panic attacks by many countries in the world with some putting stringent measures in a bid to stop the spread of the virus. In April 2020, it would take four days for the entire world to record 100 000 cases of Covid-19, but nowadays, an average of 600 000 cases are being recorded on a daily basis. This shows the appalling magnitude of the coronavirus which seems to be far from over. Many aspects of life have been disturbed from political, economic, social and the threat is still on-going. Covid-19 should be treated with vigilance as it has great potential to eliminate as many people as possible. So far, at least 5,63 million people have been officially recorded as having lost their lives to the dreaded virus.

Zimbabwe has entered the 4th wave of Covid-19 with South Africa leading in terms of both incidence and prevalence. South Africa has been recording an average of 18 000 cases daily for the past five days, a figure that should send chills along our spines. Our country has been recording an average of 4 000 cases daily for the past seven days with a positivity rate of more than 34%. However, there was collapse of the case fatality rate from 3,4% the previous week to 2,9% this week. What is alarming is the unprecedented high number of active cases that are now above 50 000.

Scientists are working flat out in order to get as much information as possible about the Omicron. The virus has a constellation of mutations with at least 30 of them located on the spike protein. Information available today shows that the variant has great potential to infect people who were previously infected with other forms of the Covid-19. There is increased transmissibility with a reproductive number of close to 2. The symptoms are not as aggressive as those exhibited by the delta variant which had numerous admissions with multiple cases of respiratory distress syndrome, pulmonary embolism, renal failure and deaths. Headache has been a dominant symptom associated with general tiredness, muscle aches and loss of appetite. Researchers have thus come up with preliminary conclusion that Omicron is less severe than delta variant that gave us torrid moments from June to August of 2021. There is general miscalculated belief that Covid-19 has no power if mortality is low especially during the first week. It is therefore my belief that we should not rush to bask in sunlight and celebrate that the current Covid-19 strain has no power hence no need to observe the stipulated public health measures. That is a gross miscalculation for many reasons, some of which are the following:

There is no information about the presence or absence of other notorious variants in this fourth wave. With or without the Omicron, the country was going to have the fourth wave in December from trend analysis.

Although it seems the Omicron may be trying to overtake the other variants, the delta variant may still be prevalent in high numbers as well. The presence or absence of other notorious variants like delta in this fourth wave is not well known. Delta is known for its virulence and any mistakes may lead to serious Covid-19. More time is needed in order to come up with better conclusions.

The long- term effects of the Omicron are not known as research is still on-going. It is thus imperative for all of us to avoid contracting the virus. This calls for strict adherence to public health measures like masking up, observance of social distancing, hand-washing or sanitisation and vaccination.

Many people are now complacent about public health measures. There is general laxity on many aspects of Covid-19 control and the following are harrowing factors:

Many people are gloating about testing and some of them have a whole profusion of reasons against getting Covid-19 tests. This is the same with vaccination where many people have snubbed the free exercise.

Many people are self-prescribing drugs yet some of the drugs may be contraindicated in some conditions.

People with comorbidities like Diabetes Mellitus, Hypertension, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease should be treated as special cases because of high risk of complications.

Some of those who test positive are roaming the streets further spreading the virus to unsuspecting people. There should be a general sense of consideration if we are to contain the virus as a nation.

There is general loss of seriousness in enforcing public health measures and gatherings are rampant with few people heeding public health calls.

We should, therefore, wait a bit before we fully celebrate the so-called evaporation of Covid-19. Covid-19 is tricky and can change anytime. Follow all stipulated measures!

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