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Most Suspected Cases Mild: South African Doctor Who Detected ‘Omicron’

Coetzee said Omicron had been hyped as an "extremely dangerous virus variant" despite its virulency being unknown.

Published
World
2 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Image used for representative purposes.&nbsp;</p></div>
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While there is global concern over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Angelique Coetzee, a South African doctor who had raised the alarm over the same said on Sunday, 28 November, that dozens of her patients suspected of having the new variant had only shown mild symptoms and had recovered fully without hospitalisation.

Coetzee, chair of the South African Medical Association, told news agency AFP that she had seen around 30 patients over the past 10 days who tested positive for COVID-19 but had unfamiliar symptoms.

She was quoted as saying, "What brought them to the surgery was this extreme tiredness," which she believes to be unusual for younger patients.

Other symptoms included mild muscle aches, a "scratchy throat", and dry cough. Only a few had a slight fever. Unlike other variants, which gave severe symptoms, these were mild.

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Most of Coetzee’s patients were men under 40 years of age, while only half were vaccinated, AFP reported.

On 18 November, when Coetzee had received seven of her 30 patients, she alerted health officials of a "clinical picture that doesn't fit Delta".

The variant had been picked up on by other South African scientists by then, Coetzee added, and was announced on Thursday, 25 November.

The COVID-19 Omicron variant, which sparked global concern of being a potentially more contagious variant, led to several European nations setting up restrictions overnight and setting travel bans on southern Africa, which the South African government believes to be “rushed” and unjust, AFP reported.

Coetzee stated the same saying that Omicron had been hyped as an "extremely dangerous virus variant" with multiple mutations despite its virulency still being unknown.

Omicron is thought to be highly contagious and resistant to immunity. However, vaccine resistance is still being assessed.

Coetzee emphasised, “We are not saying that there will not be severe disease coming forward”, but "for now, even the patients that we have seen who are not vaccinated have mild symptoms. I'm quite sure... a lot of people in Europe already have this virus".

Meanwhile, nearly three-quarters of the COVID-19 cases reported recently in South Africa have been identified as Omicron.

After South Africa shared its discovery, the variant has already been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, Australia, Italy, the UK, and Belgium.

South Africa’s daily COVID positivity rate has jumped from 3.6 percent on Wednesday, 24 November, to an alarming 9.2 percent on Saturday, 27 November.

(With inputs from AFP.)

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