Experts say don’t lower guard against Omicron
JAMMU, Jan 6: Government is fully prepared to deal with any untoward situation arising due to 3rd wave of COVID-19 and has enough hospital beds and medical oxygen generation plants in both the divisions of Jammu province.
Director, Family Welfare, MCH & Immunization, Dr Saleem ur Rehman, who is also holding additional charge of Director Health Services Jammu, said as of now there are more than 10,000 beds available for COVID patients across different hospitals in Jammu province and 44 oxygen plants but in the present scenario, deaths and hospitalization are very minimal. “Only 48 beds in DRDO Jammu have been occupied and we are closely monitoring the hospitalization and death cases,” he added.
He said the vaccines are also capable of reducing impact of the variant and now the vaccination for children between the age group of 15-18 years has also been started which will help in preventing the spread. “Although if we don’t want this year to pass same as last year, it is strictly recommended to follow all WHO guidelines such as practicing social distancing, wearing mask, avoiding public gatherings and maintaining social distancing,” he asserted.
Dr Saleem, said that Omicron is highly transmissible and initial reported infections tend to have mild disease with low mortality rate and approximately 41% reduction in hospitals stay and that is why the home isolation period has been reduced from 10 to seven days globally and in India.
Meanwhile, Professor Sandeep Dogra, Department of Microbiology, Government Medical College Jammu, said that Omicron is spreading 20 times faster than its previous variants globally but people who have contracted it are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms such as cough, stuffy nose or fatigue and therefore, they are not getting hospitalized but it can’t be said at this point of time that the hospitalization will not increase in the coming days as during start of 2nd wave also, there were very less hospitalization but as the cases started rising, the situation worsened.
“I believe that though Omicron is more like a common cold at present but people, particularly elders suffering with other life threatening diseases need to be more alert and cautious at this stage itself,” he said. Prof Dogra said that people need to make habit of wearing masks which they have forgotten completely and those who have not yet get them vaccinated against COVID-19 for any reason, should go for it immediately as by not doing this, they not only put their life in danger but also that of others.
He said a young person affected with Omicron variant recover within 5-6 days and needs no hospitalization unless he/she has severe symptoms. “Any person having flu like symptoms must go for testing and home quarantine for 7 days if found infected with virus. That is all, we must need to do at this point of time besides following WHO guidelines regarding use of masks, social distancing, vaccination and avoiding gathering & crowded places,” he asserted.
Dr Vishal Tandon, Professor in Department of Pharmacology, GMC Jammu said time is not to fear of Omicron but take precautions. “I will also advise people not to lower their guards because if the numbers will go exponentially high, then people will rush towards hospitals, not due to severity but out of panic, and health infrastructure will be overwhelmed. There is also a possibility that treatment may cause more harm. Hence, we need to keep all the precautions on.”
The new mutant, according to the available data and report, is causing very mild and self-limiting symptoms, Dr Tandon said. He added that right now our focus should not be number of Omicron cases but vaccination of children between age group 15-18 and left over people of high risk groups as the young and healthy can recover within a week but in people with co-morbidities, even new variant can cause severe symptoms like abdomen pain, diarrhea and respiratory problems.
He said after 6-8 months of 2nd dose of Covid vaccine, its effectiveness reduces and that is why Government has started drive of inoculating precautionary 3rd dose to elderly people with co-morbidities and health care personnel. He advised all those falling in these priority groups to get their precautionary 3rd dose of Covid vaccine at their nearest vaccination site.