December 23, 2021 5:00:55 pm
Amid the surge in Omicron cases, one of the commonly asked questions is how long should an infected patient quarantine, especially if they are double-vaccinated.
As per World Health Organization (WHO), the overall threat posed by the ‘variant of concern’ largely depends on three key aspects – its transmissibility, how well the vaccines and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection protect against it, and how virulent the variant is as compared to other variants.
Dr Abhishek Subhash, Consultant Internal Medicine at Bhatia Hospital said that in India, currently, the isolation period for Omicron patients is 14 days. In the US, it is 10 days for vaccinated patients, and five days after taking the booster shots.
In the US, where the Holiday season is in progress, there is a recommendation to reduce the 10-day quarantine, as per White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci.
“That’s certainly an important consideration which is being discussed right now,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, reported CNN. This will help asymptomatic people return to work or school, the proper precautions, as per Fauci.
While breakthrough infections are rising among the fully vaccinated population, the symptoms are milder, experts point out. “As a result of extensive vaccination drives, the severity of the disease is milder and has shown good response to conventional medications that we use for Covid 19,” said Dr Gopi Krishna Yedlapati, consultant interventional pulmonologist, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad.
“Countries can – and must – prevent the spread of Omicron with proven health and social measures. Our focus must continue to be to protect the least protected and those at high risk,” said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region.
How is Omicron detected?
As per India’s Ministry of Home and Family Affairs (MoHFW), the most accepted and commonly used method of diagnostic for SARS-CoV2 variant is the RT-PCR method. This method detects specific genes in the virus, such as Spike (S), Enveloped (E) and Nucleocapsid (N) etc to confirm the presence of virus.
However, “in case of Omicron, as the S gene is heavily mutated, some of the primers may lead to results indicating absence of the S gene (called as S gene drop out). This particular S gene drop out along with the detection of other viral genes could be used a diagnostic feature of Omicron. However, for final confirmation of the omicron variant genomic sequencing is required,” reads the Ministry’s statement.
The treatment protocols are similar in both delta and omicron, that is isolation for 14 days and strict monitoring of the infection and proper check-up with the pulmonologist, stated Dr Yedlapati.
Even if it does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could once again overwhelm health systems. Hence, as per WHO, health care capacity including ICU beds, oxygen availability, adequate health care staff and surge capacity need to be reviewed and strengthened at all levels.
How to prevent it?
The precautions and steps to be taken remain same as before. As per MoHFW, it is essential to mask yourself properly, take both doses of vaccines (if not yet vaccinated), maintain social distancing and maintain good ventilation.
📣 The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.