India is in the third Covid wave, said to be driven largely by Omicron – a new variant that is believed to be highly contagious. Is the new variant mild or severe? With cases surging globally, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the new variant should not be dismissed as mild.
Speaking to NDTV today, a doctor working with AIIMS Jodhpur also sounded a caution – “Don’t take Omicron lightly”.
Dr Tanmay Motiwala, working with the Pediatrics Department, tested positive for Covid on Wednesday. He is currently in isolation. “I possibly came in contact with a patient from the ICU after which I had a mild headache. There was profound weakness – that was a predominant symptom. I isolated myself immediately.”
On reports coming in from across India on doctors testing positive, the Senior Resident Doctor said, “We did come up with a schedule when booster shots were to be given. But the wave has hit at exactly the same time. Secondly, Omicron seems to have a higher infection rate than the Delta variant which was earlier there. “
“I have served in the previous wave as well. Doctors were infected earlier also. But this time, the number seems to be higher. Some places, the entire department is testing positive. This is really worrisome.”
On many officials pointing out that hospitalisation so far are low or indicated that the new variant is mild, Dr Motiwala, “We have to first understand that the sheer number of cases has already burdened the system. For one year, we did not have 40,000 junior doctors.”
“For some people who have good immunity, the symptoms may be mild. But it can be deadly for people at risk. People with good immunity may escape this but they may end up passing it to their loved ones, at risk,” he added.
India has seen an exponential rise in coronavirus cases over one week. From less than 10,000 daily cases a week ago to over 1 lakh cases in a day – the country is witnessing an alarming spread of the virus.
Dr Motiwala today pointed out that it is difficult to differentiate between the Omicron and the Delta variant. “What has to be factored in, however, is that if some patients do get admitted, the routine patients suffer.”
Are those on the frontline prepared for the onslaught of the third wave? “We did anticipate the third wave. But people have to do their part… the fatique among the heath workers due to the last two Covid waves is very much there. Everyone can be a hero sitting at their homes by putting their masks up and taking vaccines.”