Focus on home isolation, don't panic, block hospital beds: Randeep Guleria on Omicrontext_fields
New Delhi: Terming the new variant of Covid-19 as much milder impact than Delta, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that those infected with Omicron should avoid panicking and blocking hospital beds, leaving less for patients with comorbidities. Data from South Africa and other countries showed that the virus was mild and that hospitalisation rates would not rise much, Dr Guleria reiterated.
"There is no need to panic. It is important to understand that, unlike last time, this new variant doesn't cause that much of a fall in oxygen saturation. Therefore, the focus on those who don't have comorbidities should be home isolation. You should work on a home-isolation strategy, and not get into panic situations, blocking beds in hospitals, which is not required. Data also suggests that recovery happens much faster, therefore people will tend to improve faster," he explained.
Hoarding oxygen cylinders was also not a way forward, according to the AIIMS chief.
The reason for Omicron's mildness lies in what studies have shown, due to activity in the upper respiratory tract than the lower lungs, which is what caused the severity of infection demonstrated by the Delta virus, Dr Guleria said.
There was little reason to panic as the situation in India was much better than during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic last April as there were higher levels of natural immunity because of viral exposure and high vaccine coverage as the percentage of those taking their second dose had crossed 60%, the AIIMS chief said.
"Second, we are also better prepared in terms of facilities. Whether it is medical oxygen plants, ICU beds, ventilators. So in terms of preparation and our immune response, we are in a better position," he added. Even now, the best precautions were wearing masks, frequently sanitising hands and social distancing, Dr Guleria emphasised.
He called for people to come forward and get the vaccine as currently available studies showed vaccines had a great protective effect from Covid-19, especially severe disease and mortality.
The Omicron infection tally has climbed to 961 across the nation, out of which 320 patients have been discharged from hospitals. A total of 22 states have detected the new variant. Meanwhile, India registered 13,154 new Covid-19 cases and 268 deaths, said the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday.