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Covid-19: ‘No need to panic’, Omicron variant, ‘symptoms are mild’ so far – SAMA board chair

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Dr Angelique Coetzee – who is also board chairperson of the SA Medical Association.

Dr Angelique Coetzee – who is also board chairperson of the SA Medical Association.
  • A Tshwane medical doctor says, unlike previous variants, the Covid-19 patients she treats do not have serious symptoms.
  • She urged people not to panic, as the patients have not needed hospital admission.
  • An expert in infectious diseases says, although the mild symptoms are good news, doctors should be cautious because not much is known about the new variant.

As scientists race to decode the Omicron variant, a medical practitioner has urged the public not to panic, as patients so far had shown no severe symptoms, or the need for hospital treatment.

Dr Angelique Coetzee – who is also board chairperson of the SA Medical Association (SAMA) and in a private practice in Pretoria – said, although the situation might change, the symptoms had not been serious so far.

“This is not only my own account. I consulted with other doctors in Atteridgeville, Midrand and so on, and they’re seeing exactly what I am seeing. The symptoms are mild, and that’s the most important message,” she said.

Adding that things “might change”, Coetzee said for now there seemed to be no serious symptoms being presented by patients.

We are not even admitting them, they’re at home and they get better within two to three days after we have seen them. Nothing spectacular at this stage, and there really is no need to panic.

She added that hospitals in Tshwane were not experiencing high ICU admissions, but that this may change in the next two weeks.

However, infectious disease expert Dr Richard Lessells has warned that not much is known about the new variant, when it comes to its severity.

“It’s just that there’s a lot flying around from clinicians saying that all cases are mild. I think we need to exercise a bit of caution about that because this is largely affecting the younger age group, and as you might know, they are not at risk of getting severely sick anyway,” he said.

Lessells added that there was timeline in patients, from when they became infected up until they got sick and required hospitalisation, maybe after a week or more.