Dr Chandra said the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire worldwide and is responsible for the rise in cases being witnessed in India.
New Delhi: The rise in COVID-19 cases suggests that India is at the beginning of the third wave of coronavirus, a Delhi-based senior physician said on Tuesday (January 4) and noted that the Omicron variant would become the dominant strain, "which is not necessarily a bad thing" as its symptoms are a lot less severe than that of the delta variant.
Dr S Chandra, Consultant Physician of Internal Medicine and Travel Medicine, Helvetia Diagnostics And Healthcare, said that COVID-19 cases are rising, but hospitalisations are fewer than the second wave.
"Unfortunately, we seem to be at the beginning of the third wave because the cases are rising regularly. If people look back on the number of deaths in India, it's been about 123 day before yesterday, and 124 yesterday and we are seeing about 27,000 or 30,000 cases. I believe that it's not as severe as the second wave as of now," Dr Chandra told ANI.
"Most of the cases are mild and hospitalisations are also low. Hospitalisations are low from what we are seeing around us and what my colleagues are seeing in different hospitals. I am not noticing a rise in the number of severe patients or ICU admissions. I don't see a demand for oxygen going up like the last time, nor do I see any severity in patients as of now with a sudden fall in the SPO2 or a sudden gasping or sudden severe symptoms like the last time," he added.
Referring to remarks of Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain that Omicron variant had been found in 81 per cent of the cases sent for genome sequencing, he said the new variant would become the dominant strain. "I believe that Omicron will become the dominant strain and which necessarily is not a bad thing, considering that the symptoms of Omicron are a lot less severe than delta. I'm optimistic about it not causing as much harm as the delta wave." Dr Chandra said.
The expert at the Delhi-based medical centre said symptoms mostly seem to be mild and moderate with minimal hospitalisation.
"If you're asking me if hospitalisation is essential for every patient who has Omicron, my answer would be no because the symptoms are very mild, in fact, milder than what we've seen in the last few years – a bit of fever, bit of cough, which can easily be taken care of at home. And what we also noticed is that the signs and symptoms are also reducing within three to four days of start of the disease. You know some don't even realise that they've got infected because it resembles the common and the common flu," he said.
Dr Chandra said the Omicron variant is spreading like wildfire worldwide and is responsible for the rise in cases being witnessed in India. He emphasised vaccination, wearing a mask and following COVID-19-appropriate behaviour as measures to prevent coronavirus spread.
"The best way to avoid getting the virus is to make sure you're wearing mask and wearing it correctly. Second, avoid unnecessary crowds. Avoid travel unless necessary. Avoid public spaces and get vaccinated definitely. And of course, basic sanitation rules. Use your hand sanitiser. Keep your environment clean," he said.
He said vaccination is definitely helping in the battle against the virus. Referring to queries from people about their getting symptoms despite vaccination, he said vaccines are never 100 per cent effective, and that is the case with all vaccines, not just those against COVID-19.
"However, vaccination definitely reduces the severity of the disease. So please go get vaccinated," he said. However, he emphasised extra care in persons with comorbidities and the elderly.
"If you have elderly at home, anybody with comorbidities at home if you're immunocompromised, or HIV positive, or if you have other immunocompromised diseases, just make sure you take a bit of extra care. Do not step out unless absolutely necessary. Avoid large crowds. Work from home as far as possible. And make sure you take your immune boosters and your medications at the right time," he said.