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It’s still unclear whether Omicron targets a certain age group: DOH

According to a health official, there is yet no indication that the recently discovered coronavirus variation Omicron is more likely to infect children or cause severe symptoms.

Alethea de Guzman, director of the Department of Health’s Epidemiology Bureau, said further research is needed to better understand Omicron’s transmissibility, infectivity, and effect on vaccine efficacy.

“Based on studies, we can’t say whether the variant affects a certain age range, produces severe symptoms, or increases the risk of mortality) Omicron variant,” de Guzman said in an online briefing.

According to early reports, the Omicron variant affected people under the age of 40, and its symptoms are modest compared to the Delta variant’s โ€” weariness, headaches, and a moderate temperature.

On Nov. 21, the Omicron variety was discovered in Botswana, Hong Kong, and South Africa for the first time. On November 24, it was labeled as a variant under surveillance, and on November 26, it was classed as a variant of concern.

“With 50 changes in all, 30 of which are in the spike region,” de Guzman said, “it’s possible that the Omicron variant causes enhanced transmissibility and immunological invasion.”

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand several facets of Omicron, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In terms of transmissibility, the WHO stated that it is unclear whether it is more transmissible than other variations, such as Delta.

“The number of people testing positive has increased in areas of South Africa afflicted by this variant,” it stated in an update released on its website on Nov. 28. “Epidemiologic studies are underway to investigate if this is due to Omicron or other factors.”

It’s also unclear whether Omicron infection causes more severe disease than infections caused by other variations, such as Delta.

“Preliminary data suggests that hospitalization rates in South Africa are rising, although this could be due to an increase in the general number of persons being infected, rather than a specific Omicron illness,” it stated.

“There is currently no evidence that the symptoms linked with Omicron are distinct from those associated with other variations. Infections were first recorded among university students, who are younger and have a milder form of the sickness, but determining the severity of the Omicron version will take days to weeks “It was also added.

Omicron is rapidly spreading across Europe, leading local governments and other countries to reopen borders to stem the spread.

South Africa has 109 cases, Botswana has 19, the Netherlands has 13, the United Kingdom has three, Germany has three, Israel has two, Canada has two, Hong Kong has two, Australia has two, Denmark has two, Austria has one, Italy has one, Belgium has one, and the Czech Republic has one.

Travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, and the Seychelles face travel restrictions.

Although no examples of the Omicron variety have been found in the country, de Guzman believes it is only a matter of time.

“Like previous worrisome varieties, it’s quite likely that the Omicron form will eventually enter the country.” The proposed measures are intended to allow us time to prepare our local health systems, according to de Guzman.

To prevent access or confine and mitigate cases of the Omicron variety, De Guzman proposed strengthening “Door 2” of the Four Door or Point of Entry Strategy.

At entrance points, the plan comprises screening, quarantine, and testing.

De Guzman encouraged local government units to conduct active case detection, quick isolation, and contact tracking of detected cases if the variation has entered the nation.

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