With Omicron reported in 30 countries including Saudi Arabia, UAE and India, the people of the Sultanate of Oman must strengthen guard against the new mutant of coronavirus. The spread of viral flu with Covid-19 like symptoms is one more reason to follow social distancing, hand washing, wearing of masks and getting fully vaccinated.
Scientists are in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available. According to WTO, it is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible compared to other variants, including Delta. It is also not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.
Whether the impact is severe or mild, the people must strictly follow Covid-19 protocol.
The Sultanate of Oman has taken steps to tackle Omicron by banning visitors from seven African countries and imposing quarantine on citizens and residents arriving from these countries. The ban also covers other travellers who happened to have visited the above-mentioned countries within 14 days before applying to enter Oman.
Dr Zaid al Hinai, a consultant on pediatric infectious diseases at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, said the emergence of Omicron is not surprising. “It will take weeks to know how dangerous it is. This mutation reminds us of the importance of following precautions as well as the importance of PCRs test on those coming from abroad to prevent the entry of the mutated virus."
Early intervention is needed to stop the arrival of this strain or others from abroad, he said. “The mutant spreads rapidly in Delta-dominant countries. It may be more widespread than the delta strain. It has undergone genetic mutations to evade immunity.”
Dr Al Hinai said everybody must avoid contracting the infection by skipping gatherings, wearing masks, following hand hygiene and isolating oneself if there are symptoms.