The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), a division of the National Health Laboratory Service, continues to monitor developments around the newly emerged Omicron variant. “The number of new COVID-19 cases and the percent positivity continue to increase, likely due to spread of the Omicron variant.
At this stage, scientists are trying to establish if this new variant has increased transmissibility (ability to spread) and/or developed ways to escape some of our immune responses,” says NICD Acting Executive Director, Prof Adrian Puren. He adds however, that the severity of Omicron is yet to be determined and urges members of the public to be cautious and to reconsider attending events that may become super spreader events, such as indoor gatherings in poorly ventilated spaces or large gatherings.
Dr Michelle Groome, Head of the Division of Public Health Surveillance and Response at the NICD agrees that responsible actions and adherence to non-pharmaceutical interventions are key to limiting the impact of a fourth wave. “If individuals remain steadfast in implementing physical and social distancing, and by wearing their masks, transmission of the disease and ultimately the negative impact on our health sector will be lessened. COVID-19 vaccination remains key, and anyone over the age of 12-years who chooses to vaccinate, is encouraged to follow through and join those who have already rolled up their sleeves.”
Dr Groome concludes by saying that if anyone experiences COVID-like symptoms, that they should self-quarantine and monitor their symptoms for at least 10-days. “During the 10-day period you should avoid contact with others, continue to wear your mask and wash your hands often. Should any worrisome symptoms present, we recommend contacting your healthcare provider for assistance.”
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