The World Health Organization (WHO) recently announced a concerning new variant of COVID-19, a strain called Omicron.
First detected in South Africa, Omicron gets its name from the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet in accordance with a variant naming system announced back in May.
The WHO has classed Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ rather than a ‘variant of interest’ on account of its ‘large number of mutations, some of which are concerning’. Furthermore, Omicron ‘has been detected at faster rates than previous surges in infection’, which would suggest ‘this variant may have a growth advantage’.
Cases of the highly contagious variant have been detected in a number of countries, including the UK, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Australia, Botswana, Denmark, Hong Kong, Israel, the Netherlands, France and Canada, and governments have now started to take action to stop the spread.
As reported by The Telegraph, some of the more ‘unusual’ symptoms of Omicron noted by Dr Angelique Coetzee include fatigue and high pulse rates. Dr Coetzee has reportedly treated patients with aching muscles, ‘scratchy throats’ and dry coughs, as well as a few with high temperatures.
Dr Coetzee first saw this variant in a male patient aged in his early thirties. This man reportedly experienced tiredness as well as a mild headache, but didn’t suffer any of the symptoms usually associated with COVID-19, for example, loss of taste and smell, continuous cough and raised temperature.
Furthermore, there has been no noted major drop in oxygen levels with Omicron, as per Dr Coetzee, who also sits on the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines.
It’s believed that Omicron differs from previous variants, for example, those who contract the delta variant will often report having headaches, sore throats and runny nose, symptoms which you might also get after catching a common cold.
As per the King’s College London Zoe tracker app, the most common symptom is a moderate to severe ‘pulsing’ headache which lasts around three to five days, and can’t be relieved with painkillers. However, even during this early stage, those who’ve contracted omicron appear to get milder headaches.
As reported by Sky News, Dr Coetzee noted that those she’s treated for this new variant are usually under the age of 40,. with nearly half of those she found to have Omicron symptoms being unvaccinated.