A South African doctor said Sunday that symptoms of the Omicron variant appear to be mild and can be treated at home.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, a private practitioner and chair of the South African Medical Association, was one of the first to notice the new variant. She treated patients at her clinic who had symptoms different from the Delta variant, she said. Omicron was announced by the South African National Institute of Communicable Diseases on Nov. 25, based on samples taken earlier in the month.
Coetzee said the symptoms were “mild” in the patients she observed. They mostly consisted of fatigue, body aches and headaches.
“Symptoms at that stage was very much related to normal viral infection. And because we haven’t seen COVID-19 for the past eight to 10 weeks, we decided to test,” she told Reuters.
More patients came in with similar symptoms, which made Coetzee suspect there was “something else going on. We have seen a lot of Delta patients during the third wave. And this doesn’t fit in the clinical picture,” she said. “Most of them are seeing very, very mild symptoms, and none of them, so far, have admitted patients to surgeries. We have been able to treat these patients conservatively at home,” she said.
No loss of smell or taste has been observed, she added. Oxygen levels also remained normal in those infected with the new variant.
Coetzee said Omicron is being primarily observed in people age 40 or younger, and almost half that she treated were not vaccinated.