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    Are Children More Susceptible to Omicron?

    Rinda Angom

    Omicron, the new variant of Covid-19 has been labelled as the variant of concern by WHO. It was first identified in South Africa Although this new variant is believed to be less severe than the Delta variant from studies however it shouldn’t be taken lightly or considered mild. The Omicron variant is spreading faster than other Covid variants and WHO believes that it will outpace the Delta variant based on available information. Further studies are still going on and it’s still too early to draw a conclusion.

    Omicron Symptoms

    According to WHO, there is no information that suggests that Omicron symptoms can be different from the other Covid-19 variants. However, Omicron symptoms may vary from common to severe ones. The most common symptoms are fever, cough, tiredness, loss of taste or smell. Some may get less common symptoms like headache, sore throat, body pain, diarrhoea etc. Severe symptoms may include breathlessness, congestion, chest pain etc.

    Chances of children getting infected

    Some studies show that children have a lower risk of hospitalisation due to Covid and those who had gone through it had comorbidity cases. Severe cases associated with MIS-C or multi-system inflammatory Syndrome in children have been reported very few in India. The symptomatic cases in children are found to be low and therefore the reported cases are also low. As the previous variants of Covid also did not increase the susceptibility in children, Omicron may also be less likely to increase the risk in children.

    However, Dr Sanjeev Bagai on India Today emphasizes why children require vaccination, the reason is to not allow or upsurge of infections and that vaccines are always a preventive modality. He also said that children carry the same virus loads and almost 49.5% of children have an asymptomatic carrier state and these children have the same kind of long Covid effect including in the brain and the heart about 6 months to 12 months later. He said studies have shown that unvaccinated children in an otherwise vaccinated household, if there is one child unvaccinated in the house, 42% increase risk and if it’s 2,3 or 4, it goes up to 78% increase risk.

    How to protect your children and family from Omicron

    There are no different ways of protecting ourselves from Omicron. We just need to follow the same rule as we have been following for the previous variants.

    -Wear mask

    -Keep a distance of 1meter

    -Keep washing your hands

    -Avoided crowded place

    -Keep indoors ventilated

    -Get vaccinated

    Dr Ghebreyesus, head of WHO stated that Omicron has been spreading at a rate we haven’t seen in any other variant so far. He also added, “We are also concerned that people are dismissing Omicron as mild. Surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our own peril.”

    Covid-19 is not bidding us goodbye anytime soon. We should not underestimate its mutating power. At best, we should do our best to protect ourselves and our children.

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