The World Health Organisation (WHO) has demanded that nations drop their knee-jerk international travel restrictions after reports from South Africa indicate that the Omicron variant is mild and is not more lethal than the Delta variant. In addition, South Africa has not experienced an increase in Covid deaths since the discovery of the new variant, with patients expressing only mild symptoms. City A.M. has the story.
The WHO and Covid experts are increasingly convinced the new Omicron variant is ‘super mild’ and has, so far, not led to a jump in Covid death rates anywhere in Southern Africa.
The WHO is calling this morning for countries to drop travel restrictions and end the mass hysteria, and instead be cautiously optimistic as more and more reports out of South Africa suggest the new Omicron variant is not more lethal than the previous Delta variant.
In fact, there have been no reports of hospitalisations or deaths as a result of anyone being diagnosed with Omicron.
Most patients merely experience a severe headache, nausea, dizziness and a high pulse rate, according to hospitals and medics across Southern Africa.
However, the news of the new variant, first reported in South Africa, led to mass hysteria around the world: markets thumbed and dozens of countries imposed travel restrictions and additional checks, including the U.K., U.S., E.U., Israel, Australia and Japan after the new mutation popped up in the U.K., Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and Israel among other countries.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, Chair of the South African Medical Association, said this reaction was “medically seen, not justified”.
A GP for over three decades, and chair of the South African Medical Association, she was the first African doctor to suggest to local authorities Covid had mutated into a new strain.
Coetzee called the response from many European countries, including the U.K., “just a hype”.
“Looking at the mildness of the symptoms we are seeing, currently there is no reason for panicking as we don’t see any severely ill patients.”
South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla also said the majority of cases of Omicron seen by doctors in his country have been “mild”.
Asked what he knows about how unwell people are who have it, Dr. Phaahla said: “It is still too early at this stage.”
He added he has heard from GPs that the “majority of the people they’ve been seeing are mild”.
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Read what Dr. Angelique Coetzee, Chair of the South African Medical Association, has to say on the media hype and government reactions: