Around the globe, the scare has once again glared upon people with the Omicron variant of the virus taking a steep hike in numbers. Apart from the crashing of stock market internationally and the shutting of international corridors, people have been more frightened by the fact that whether this variant is more infectious or severe than others or can it circumvent vaccine protection.

Canada is one of the countries that has recently advised against non-essential travel abroad as the virus spreads. The Federal government in the country has missed advisory urging Canadians to avoid international travel plans or plan ahead if absolutely required. The documentation quotes “Now is not the time to travel” by the health ministry. The Public Health Agency of Canada also hints at an indeterminate period that travellers returning to Canada might have to face amid implementing strict travel restrictions.

 

Countries in Europe are in an effort to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of the virus by vaccination of children under 12 years of age. Next in the queue to be vaccinated are children within 9-11 years of age and the united kingdom has already stocked up on the doses. In Germany, the most vulnerable section of children is being vaccinated first.

The World Health Organisation suggest that the Omicron variant of the novel virus has been so far reported in eighty-nine countries so far and the cases are doubling every one to three days. This says the rapid spread of the Omicron cases is also visible in countries with high immunity while the reasons for the same are unknown. The data available on this matter is minuscule while scientists and doctors around the world are scrambling their brains to understand the reason behind this strange trend. In a briefing this week by an international news network, they are suggesting that the virus spread has jumped sevenfold in one week. Non-essential travel between France and Britain has come to a halt with the rising of the cases. The health agencies around the world are watching this very closely. The United States and Europe are among the counties dealing with the surging cases at present. London has reported the highest 24-hour increase in cases of the virus since the pandemic has started and the Omicron virus makes up 80% of the new cases. There has been a staggering 49% increase in cases of COVID-19 in just the last two weeks for the United States. WHO has even suggested that although Omicron is not as severe as the Delta variant, it is significantly spreading faster.

 

Taking a look nationally within our country, India now has reported a total of 104 Omicron cases in the country. Both Maharashtra and Delhi are witnessing the highest number of cases. It is important to note that the Omicron variant has the highest transmission rate and hence the Delhi government has already geared up to take actions by designating 5 hospitals to tackle only the Omicron variant. The health ministry advises that if we are to compare the number of cases to Europe then India might see a projected value of 14 lakh cases very soon. This is a fearful projection by the health ministry and NITI Aayog.

 

The symptoms of the new virus are quite similar to influenza. Some of the key symptoms to look out for are scratchy throat, nasal congestion, dry cough, lower back pain and loose stools. The symptoms are mild but the variant is not less virulent. This virus is known to multiply more in the upper respiratory tract causing stringent congestion in the chest area.  

However, World Health Organization (WHO) has approved Covovax which is by the Serum Institute of India as the vaccine that can be used in children from 12 – 17 years of age. But Covovax will join the likes of Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer, Moderna, Covishield with the latest entrant being in the WHO’s emergency listing.