Story at a glance
- The South African doctor who was the first to detect the COVID-19 omicron variant described most of the symptoms as “extremely mild.”
- The initial patients reported being extremely tired, with body aches and a head ache.
- Patients didn’t report a sore throat, but rather a scratchy throat, and didn’t develop a cough or loss of taste or smell.
The South African doctor who was the first to detect the COVID-19 omicron variant described most of the symptoms as “extremely mild” when alerting people what to look out for.
“It actually started with a male patient who’s around the age of 33,” Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told the BBC on Sunday, adding, “And he said to me that he’s just [been] extremely tired for the past few days and he’s got these body aches and pains with a bit of a headache.”
Unlike traditional coronavirus patients and those with the delta variant, the patient didn’t report a sore throat, but rather a scratchy throat. He also didn’t develop a cough or loss of taste or smell.
As Coetzee began to notice these same symptoms in other patients who were testing positive for COVID-19 as well, she alerted South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee.
“What we are seeing clinically in South Africa — and remember I’m at the epicenter of this where I’m practicing — is extremely mild, for us [these are] mild cases,” Coetzee said. “We haven’t admitted anyone, I’ve spoken to other colleagues of mine and they give the same picture.”
The omicron variant hasn’t been officially detected in the United States at this time, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement Friday that it “is continuously monitoring variants and the U.S. variant surveillance system has reliably detected new variants in this country. We expect Omicron to be identified quickly, if it emerges in the U.S.”
Canada identified the first cases of the omicron variant in the country on Sunday, making them the first to be identified in North America.
Moderna and BioNTech are working toward adapting their existing COVID-19 vaccines to make them more effective against the omicron variant.
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