Thursday Jan 13, 2022
Pakistan is in the midst of battling a fifth wave of the coronavirus pandemic, with the positivity rate in Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city, crossing 20% on January 11, as per data of the World Health Organization (WHO).
Positivity rates are also picking up in other major cities.
Health experts and government officials say that the uptick in Covid-19 numbers has been driven by the Omicron variant of the virus, that was first identified in the country on December 13.
While there is still preliminary information available on the new variant, some studies have indicated that Omicron causes milder symptoms in the infected, in comparison to the Delta variant.
Earlier this month, the WHO’s Incident Manager Abdi Mahamud told journalists, during a press conference, that the new variant has been affecting the upper respiratory tract, causing milder symptoms than other variants, which were known to cause severe pneumonia.
But Mahamud added that while this may seem like good news more studies still need to be conducted to prove it.
Separately, Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurance administrator, released a study of the Omicron variant in December, based on 211,000 Covid-19 test results in South Africa.
Amongst majority of the children, the study noted, the symptoms were mild such as sore throat, nasal congestion, headache and fever that resolves within three days.
Similarly in adults, Dr. John Vanchiere, the associate director of the Center for Emergency Viral Threats at the Louisiana State University Health Shreveport, told NPR that runny nose was a common symptoms as was sore throat and nasal congestion.
Fever, he added, was less common.
Most experts also agree that till now studies indicate that loss of smell and taste is rare with the Omicron, unlike the first few variant of the coronavirus.
Still, health experts warn people to be careful and to take the variant seriously.
Dr. Pamela Davis, pulmonologist at Case Western Reserve University, warned, in an interview with NPR, that while Omicron is milder in older age groups it is still a “nasty disease”.