Virologist dispel disinformation on social media
Experts have dispelled disinformation making rounds on social media about the new Omicron coronavirus strain. They evidence on the severity of the new variant is still inconclusive.
Panic has gripped the people of Pakistan ever since reports of the strain emerged. The World Health Organisation has called Omicron “highly transmissible”.
There are, however, a number of rumors circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook increasing anxiety in the public.
They claim that the new strain, much more dangerous, is impossible to detect and attacks lungs in 15 minutes. But, experts have said that none of this is true. According to them, the new variant is completely detectable.
Infectious diseases expert at Aga Khan University, Dr Faisal Mahmood, told SAMAA Digital that even if a new Covid-19 strain hadn’t emerged, a surge in positive cases was expected in December due to the drop in temperature.
“The transmissibility of the Omicron virus is still unclear. It is being investigated whether the cases emerging in South Africa are of this new strain or not.”
People don’t have to do anything different to protect themselves against Omicron strain, Dr Faisal assured. “Get vaccinated, wear masks, avoid going into crowded space and observe social distancing.”
The expert rejected the perception that the new variant is ineffective to vaccines.
“Vaccines are still effective against this new strain. If a vaccinated person gets affected, it [the virus] won’t be severe.”
Virologist Dr Rana Jawad Asghar told SAMAA Digital that the experts agree that coronavirus is seasonal. “In winters, people usually keep doors and windows closed which leaves no room for ventilation. This aids in spreading of the virus.”
With open ventilation, the probability of transmission of the virus decreases by 18%.
Earlier in the day, at a media briefing, NCOC chief Asad Umar said that it’s inevitable to stop the virus from coming to Pakistan. “But we have time to get vaccinated.”
“We are ramping up the number of coronavirus tests. We will conduct testing in high-risk areas.”
He added that the government is rejuvenating the contact-tracing system which proved effective earlier [to control the spread of coronavirus]. “In the next few days, a robust vaccination campaign will start in all four provinces. We only have two to three weeks [before the variant arrives] to vaccinate as many people as possible.”
The World Health Organization warned Monday the new Covid-19 Omicron variant poses a “very high” risk globally, despite uncertainties about the danger and contagion levels of the new strain.
The UN health agency said the Covid strain first discovered in southern Africa was a “highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations… some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility.”
“The likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high,” WHO cautioned in a technical note.
To date, no deaths connected with the Omicron variant have been reported, it added.
But even if the new variant does not prove more dangerous or deadly than previous ones, if it spreads more easily it will spark more cases and more pressure on health systems, and thus more deaths, the organisation said.
A growing list of countries have already imposed travel restrictions on southern Africa, including Britain, Indonesia, Kuwait, the Netherlands, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United States.
With additional information from AFP.