Boris Johnson says battle against Omicron 'is not over'
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Omicron remains the most dominant strain of coronavirus in the UK. Despite confirmed cases continuing to rise, mild symptoms are thought to be keeping hospitalisations low across the world, according to new evidence from the World Health Organization (WHO). With mild symptoms making the virus harder to spot – what are the subtle signs you should look for?
Britain has dodged further coronavirus restrictions once again as Covid hospitalisations remain lower than expected.
Despite cases hitting 218,724 in the past 24 hours, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is confident that the Government’s current “balanced approach” is working, adding that there were two main factors that made this wave different – omicron is thought to be milder, and the boosters are offering protection.
A statement made today by an official at the WHO has further supported existing evidence of Omicron being ‘milder’ than other strains.
The latest findings suggest that the newest variant affects a different part of the body to the Delta and Alpha variants which had been linked to a number of cases of pneumonia – a severe infection that causes inflammation in the air sacs of the lungs.
Why is Omicron considered more mild?
While addressing a group of Geneva-based journalists earlier today, WHO Incident Manager Abdi Mohamud said: “We are seeing more and more studies pointing out that Omicron is infecting the upper part of the body, unlike other ones where the lungs would be causing severe pneumonia.”
While the strain remains highly transmissible, the variant’s impact on the upper respiratory tract rather than the lungs is proving more manageable for those who contract symptoms.
The major passages associated with the upper respiratory tract include:
- The nostrils
- Nasal cavity
Coupled with a greater number of partially or fully vaccinated people, the somewhat rarer impact of Omicron on the lungs is thought to be the cause of less noticeable symptoms.
Common symptoms of the Omicron variant
While lateral flow and PCR tests are the best way to test for coronavirus, symptoms of the latest variant can present more subtly leaving many infected people feeling relatively well.
Since the NHS’s initial three main coronavirus symptoms were published, experts have gone on to liken the most up to date symptoms with the common cold.
According to data gathered from the UK, US and South Africa, the earliest warning signs of Omicron infection include:
- Scratchy throat
- Lower back pain
- Runny nose/congestion
- Night sweats
- Body aches
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How to reduce the spread of Omicron
Despite steady evidence of the less intense symptoms of Omicron, COVID-19 hospitalisations are still occuring, leaving the NHS to battle the unwavering pressure of staffing shortages, space and quality of care.
With hospitalisations up 10 percent nationally, this highly contagious strain continues to spread throughout the UK and across the world.
While symptoms may be harder to notice before testing, public health officials are urging the nation to stay vigilant with testing and use their initiative when it comes to isolating.
Christina Marriott, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: “Growing evidence shows that people who’ve received two doses of the vaccine typically present with less severe symptoms, such as headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and loss of smell.
“It’s important for people who’ve been fully vaccinated to stay vigilant for cold-like symptoms and get tested if they’re living or working around people who are at greater risk from the disease.”
How effective are vaccines against Omicron?
The UK’s vaccine efforts have proven successful over the Christmas period and into the new year.
With millions of Brits jabbed, double-jabbed and millions more boosted, the nation’s immunity against becoming seriously ill with the virus is proving more effective as time goes on.
The Telegraph reported: “Lab studies using blood samples of triple and double-jabbed individuals were infected with omicron and analysis revealed antibodies effectively neutralise the variant of concern.”
In his press conference today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that a large proportion of those in hospital with coronavirus were not fully vaccinated.
He said: “There are 15,000 Covid patients in hospital – some of them may have been admitted for something else.”
Mr Johnson added that it is “absolutely crazy” that there are two million slots for booster jabs this week, but that most people in intensive care have not had a booster.
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