The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has issued a warning about the third wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) hitting the country if necessary precautions are not taken amid the surge in Omicron cases. The new variant of the Sars-CoV-2 virus has so far infected 23 people across the country.
With the scientific evidence available and the experience noted in countries of origin, it is evident that the Omicron variant will have high penetrability and will affect more people, the IMA claimed at a press conference on Monday.
“At a time when India is limping back to normalcy, this is a great setback. If we do not take adequate measures, we may have a massive third wave,” it said.
The doctors’ body also demanded that the government expedite the proposal of vaccinating individuals aged 12 to 18 years.
“At this juncture, IMA also appeals to the government to officially announce additional dose (of vaccine) be given to healthcare, frontline workers and immunocompromised individuals to augment the immunity,” the IMA officials said.
The Omicron strain was first detected in southern African countries late last month and categorised as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO). The rapidly-spreading variant is believed to be more resistant to vaccines.
Since being detected in Botswana, Omicron has spread to two dozen countries. In India, 23 cases of the new strain has been detected, and the highest number is in Maharashtra.
The Indian government has implemented strict measures for international travellers, especially those arriving from countries identified as ‘at risk by the Centre. These travellers have to mandatorily carry a negative RT-PCR test result (not older than 72 hours) and upload the travel details of the last 14 days on the government’s Suvidha portal.
These international passengers have also been asked to quarantine at home for seven days.
More about Omicron
The Omicron variant has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on studies that shows it has several mutations. Still a lot of research is underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk. The Omicron variant has been detected in several regions of the world. WHO reports that the likelihood of the Omicron variant spreading further globally is high. It is not currently known if the Omicron variant is more or less severe than other strains of COVID-19, including Delta. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available. It is not yet clear whether Omicron can spread more easily from person to person compared to other variants, such as Delta. However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants. Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Although information is still limited, WHO believes it is a reasonable assumption that the currently available vaccines offer some protection against severe disease and death. It is also important to be vaccinated to protect against the other widely circulating variants, such as the Delta one. When it’s your turn, make sure to get vaccinated. If your vaccination involves two doses, it’s important to receive both in order to have the maximum protection. According to WHO, early evidence suggests that people who have previously had COVID-19 could be reinfected more easily with Omicron, in comparison to other variants of concern. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available. Source: UNICEF
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