It’s the holiday surprise no one wants: We are now well into yet another surge of COVID-19 cases, thanks to the new omicron variant.
This unwelcome news comes almost two years into the pandemic, and after the delta variant spread throughout the country, leading to high case levels that are now getting even higher. “This is going to be a very difficult winter as cases infected with the omicron variant of COVID-19 spike high,” says UNC Health infectious diseases specialist David Wohl, MD. “We are ready for this pandemic to be done, but it is hardly done with us.”
The good news? We have widely available vaccines and boosters that can continue to protect us. Read on to learn more.
The speed at which omicron is spreading makes it clear that it is much more contagious than delta. Therefore, health officials are urging people to take extra precautions to avoid infection, even if you are vaccinated.
“The rate at which omicron has taken over delta is remarkable and shows how much more transmissible this variant is. What worked to avoid delta infection may not be enough to prevent catching omicron so people should be vigilant with masking and distancing, and, of course, being vaccinated,” Dr. Wohl advises.
There is hope that omicron could cause less severe disease than previous variants, but that hasn’t been proven. Even if that’s true, if omicron infection rates are high enough, there could still be a high rate of hospitalization and deaths, Dr. Wohl says. And omicron is not as responsive to current treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies.
Indonesia confirmed 11 new cases of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant on Friday, bringing the total number of cases to 19. All the new cases involved travellers aged between 21 and 58 who just returned from foreign countries, including nine from Turkey, three from Japan, and one each from South Korea and Saudi Arabia, Health Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said.
The East Java Provincial Government announced the findings of the first case of Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 or Omicron in East Java on Sunday (2/1/2022). The patient infected with the Omicron variant is a resident of Surabaya. He was infected after returning from the island of Bali. The female patient had the initials TYC who had vacationed with her husband, SJJ in Bali using a private vehicle.
HerE are 5 facts about the first omicron case in Surabaya, East Java :
- Vacationing for 5 days in Bali
TYC and her husband, SJJ, vacationed in Bali for six days. He left for Bali using a private vehicle via road since December 20, 2021. It was said, while on vacation at tourist attractions, both of them always obeyed the PeduliLindung application. However, when he returned from a tourist trip on December 25, 2021, YTC complained of a sore throat, which was like mucus. On Tuesday (12/28/2021), TYC checked himself into the hospital and from the RT-PCR results, he was positive for the omicron variant. The husband’s test result was negative.
- The grandson tested positive in COVID-19
From the results of tracing the Surabaya City Government team, it is known that the grandson of the patient who was infected with the Covid-19 variant of the Omicron also tested positive for Covid-19. But until now it has not been confirmed whether the grandson also contracted the Omicron variant or not. According to tracing results, the grandson has never had close contact with patients infected with Omicron. The grandson also doesn’t live with the Omicron patient. Regarding this case, a team from the Surabaya City Government has conducted searches on 15 relatives and neighbours of the patient.
- The Patient has been Vaccinated
From the results of the examination, on Sunday (2/1/2022), it was stated that there were 2 patients in Surabaya who were positive for the Covid-19 variant of the omicron. The two patients experienced mild symptoms, one of which was pain in the throat. Spokesman for the East Java Covid-19 Curative Task Force, Dr. Makhyan Jibril Alfarabi, said the two patients had received the Covid-19 vaccine. He suspected that this was one of the factors that caused the patient to experience mild symptoms. They are currently still undergoing isolation at a hospital in Surabaya.
- The Covid-19 Task Force tightens entrances to Bali Regarding these
findings, the Bali Province Covid-19 Task Force has tightened the entrances to its territory from land and air. Tightening is also carried out in public areas such as hotels and tourism objects. This was conveyed by the Secretary of the Bali Province Covid-19 Task Force Made Rentin when contacted by Kompas.com, Monday (3/1/2022). In addition to tracing, his party will also immediately conduct testing on anyone who has had close contact. In addition to tracing, his party will also immediately conduct testing on anyone who has had close contact.
- The results of the PCR test for 11 hotel staff were negative
Bali Province Covid-19 Task Force announced the results of the PCR swab test for 11 hotel staff in Bali who were in close contact with the Covid-19 patient, the Omicron variant from Surabaya. As a result, 11 hotel staff were negative for Covid-19. However, they are still in quarantine. In addition to the 11 hotel staff who were in close contact, the Bali Covid-19 Task Force also conducted testing on Foreign Citizens (WNA) from Russia who had made contact with hotel staff. The Russian citizen, consisting of father, mother, and child, also showed a negative PCR swab test result.
The methods we’ve used since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020 to help prevent COVID-19 will still help us now. If you’re going to be around other people inside who are not from your household, particularly if some of those people might be unvaccinated or the group is a large one, wear a properly fitting mask over your mouth and nose. People who have relaxed some of their COVID-19 precautions in recent months might want to be a bit more careful with omicron spreading. That means mask-wearing in the grocery store, avoiding crowded events, or wearing a mask when visiting older relatives, for example.
Testing, including rapid at-home tests that can be bought at the drugstore, is helpful. If you are going to gather in a group or travel, it’s a good idea to get tested at a testing site—PCR tests are the most accurate—or do an at-home test. The at-home versions aren’t perfect, but they do a pretty good job of detecting infectious cases, Dr. Wohl says. If you test positive, you need to stay away from others and slow transmission. And while COVID-19 is an airborne disease, keep up regular hand-washing and disinfection of surfaces, which will also help reduce the transmission of flu, RSV and other common winter infections.
With healthcare systems already struggling to take care of patients with the delta variant and yet another surge at hand, it’s best for all of us to stay as healthy as possible.