Omicron is fast spreading, with fully vaccinated people, and those with past infections getting infected too.
As the country gears up for another full-fledged COVID-19 wave, many questions about symptom management and treatment have resurfaced.
What are the latest guidelines from the union health ministry regarding COVID-19 treatment and care?
What should you do if you have caught COVID in spite of being fully vaccinated?
What medicines should you NOT take?
On 24 December, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released updated guidelines for COVID management in adults.
FIT answers your FAQs.
Does Omicron variant have different symptoms?
However, according to the UK NHS, nausea and a loss of appetite are being reported in patients of COVID this time around—symptoms that are not usually associated with COVID.
I think I've been exposed, but I don't have symptoms. Should I get tested?
Yes, if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID, it is recommended you get tested because you may have asymptomatic infection.
However, if you don't have any symptoms, it is advised that you take an RT-PCR test and not an at-home Rapid Antigen Test as RATs have a higher probability of presenting false negatives in asymptomatic cases.
I am asymptomatic, and I have tested positive for COVID. Do I need medication
On 5 January, the MoHFW released a statement issuing fresh guidelines for Home Isolation of mild /asymptomatic cases.
Although you don't need medication, according to the guidelines, you are still required to self isolate at home if you have tested positive for COVID-19 and don't have any symptoms.
How long do I have to stay in home isolation?
If you have tested positive for COVID and are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms you are advised to isolate at home for a minimum of 7 days according to the updated guidelines.
Should I get tested after home isolation is over?
No, there is no requirement to get retesting after the home isolation period is over.
I have mild COVID symptoms, and I'm isolating at home. What should I do?
If you are experiencing mild symptoms and are COVID positive, according to the new guidelines from the Union Health Ministry, you should,
Isolate yourself in a well ventilated room.
If you live with other people or have a carer, wear a well-fitted triple layer mask and change them every 72 hours.
Keep yourself hydrated.
Maintain hand hygiene.
Follow symptomatic management of fever, cough, pain.
Monitor your Oxygen saturation levels and other vitals from time to time.
When should I seek emergency medical help?
According to the MoHFW, you should seek immediate medical attention if your symptoms worse, or you experience one or more of the following symptoms.
Difficulty in breathing
High grade fever/severe cough
Persistent Fever for longer than 5 days
Oxygen saturation drops below 93 percent in room air
Severe fatigue and myalgia
I have symptomatic illness, should I take Ivermectin?
No, Ivermectin was dropped from the official guidelines in June 2021 after strong scientific evidence finding that the antiparasitic drug does not help treat COVID.
The World Health Organisation, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have all warned against using Ivermectin as a treatment and even as a prophylactic.
Which other drugs and treatments that were previously in use are no longer recommended?
Several drugs which were recommended for experimental use to treat COVID in the second wave have now been dropped from the official guidelines after overwhelming evidence attested to their ineffectiveness in treating COVID-19. However, some of them continue to be prescribed.
This includes Hydroxychloroquine, Dexamethasone, and Plasma Treatment.
According to the MoHFW, Remdesivir and Tocilizumab may be prescribed only in case of moderate to severe disease and specific parameters are met.
Is it true that monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment doesn't work on the Omicron variant?
Yes, several studies have confirmed that monoclonal antibody treatments like Merck's Molnupiravir which is being produced in India by Dr Reddy's is not effective in treating infections caused by the Omicron variant, like it is with Delta.
Speaking to The Quint for a different article, Dr Anurag Agarwal, director of the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, an institute of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-IGIB), confirmed this, saying, "Genome sequencing is also being encouraged in situations such as use of monoclonal antibodies, which work against Delta but not Omicron. Health ministry is validating and introducing such tests."
Moreover, as one doesn't know which variant they are infected with, experts recommending reserving the use of monoclonal antibody treatments for use in unvaccinated, high risk patients with mild to moderate illness.
I am fully vaccinated, does that mean I won't be infected again?
Omicron has been identified as a highly transmissible variant capable of circumventing COVID vaccine immunity. So, even if you are fully vaccinated, there is a chance you could get a breakthrough infection.
However, as experts have been reiterating, the primary job of the vaccine is to protect against severe illness and death, so if you are fully vaccinated, you are more likely to get away with no symptoms to mild illness.