Omicron Fuels Fear of Another Virus Surge: Dr Purohit

Bhopal 06.12.2021. Scientists do not yet know how dangerous the new Omicron variant is, but its many mutations set off alarms, lowering hopes of putting the pandemic in the past. After two confirmed cases in Karnataka on thursday the threat of the new super mutant covid variant Omicron appears to be very transmissible said Dr Naresh Purohit, Principal Investigator for the National Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme.
Voicing his concern here the Senior Epidemiologist Dr Purohit averred that Omicron carries about 50 mutations not seen in combination before, including more than 30 mutations on the spike protein that the coronavirus uses to attach to human cells.
According to WHO the variant has now spread to 23 other nations. In South Africa, it has led to an exponential spike with Covid infections doubling.

Dr Purohit said that more research is needed to determine whether Omicron’s collection of mutations will enable the variant to evade immunity from vaccines or infections. It’s also not clear yet whether the disease it causes is more or less severe than other variants.
Dr Purohit warned that the increase of covid cases is likely caused by the changing of the seasons, with colder weather pushing people indoors and prompting them to close windows, raising the risk of transmission. Cold, drier air may also benefit the coronavirus by helping viral particles to survive and linger in the air for longer.

Advisor for National Communicable Disease Programme Dr Purohit stated that the confirmation of Omicron Variant of Concern in India emphasizes on the need for all countries to step up surveillance, to be on alert and rapidly detect any importation and take measures to curtail further spread of the virus. The response measures for all variants, including Omicron, is the same as that for SARs CoV2.

He added that comprehensive and tailored public health and social measures by governments, and strict adherence to preventive and precautionary measures by individuals, is a must. People must wear a well-fitting mask which covers their nose and mouth well, keep distance, avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces, keep hands clean, cover cough and sneeze and get vaccinated. And continue to take all precautionary measures even after getting  vaccinated. All travelers must adhere to public health and social measures at all times and remain vigilant for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
He cautioned that holiday travel during new year and gatherings could also accelerate transmission.

Dr Purohit said
the Covid pandemic has stressed the urgent need to promote scientific research in the country. India has the apt tools to fight the variant and avert an impending third wave in the country.

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