Infectious disease expert discusses Omicron variant

A new variant of coronavirus is rapidly spreading throughout the globe, including in Kazakhstan. How does Omicron manifest itself? Why is it dangerous? And how do we protect ourselves against it? Gaukhar Nussupbayeva, a specialist in sanitary and epidemiological expertise, spoke about this to Qazaq TV. According to her, the symptoms of the new COVID-19 strain are very similar to those of acute respiratory infections. Disguised as a flu-like illness, it can only be detected by laboratory diagnostics.

“As you know, it’s the flu season now, as well as the season of respiratory diseases. So it’s gonna be hard for a person to distinguish what exactly he fell ill with. Is it an Omicron or some other variant? Or maybe it's not Covid at all? But, of course, he doesn’t have to do it by himself. As soon as the first symptoms start, he needs to get tested. Presently, there are a lot of laboratories to do that. Thus, it will be known whether he has a Covid infection or a respiratory disease” Gaukhar Nussupbayeva, Spokesperson for the National Center of Public Health, said.

According to experts, the difference between the Omicron and other COVID variants is that it has a shorter incubation period, namely from three to five days. Omicron is also more contagious, it is transmitted within the first 24 hours of infection.

“As we already know, this variant of the COVID has more than 30 amino acid substitutions, which are responsible for the transmissibility of the virus. To date, the Delta strain is known to have a lower prevalence and contagiousness. Vaccination remains the main preventive measure. The virus can be dangerous for those people who have not been vaccinated and have not yet had this infection,” Nussupbayeva added.

In order to prevent getting infected, experts advise citizens to follow sanitary and hygiene rules, wear masks, wash and sanitize their hands more frequently, avoid crowded places, and strengthen their immune systems.

Translation and Editing by Assem Zhanmukhanova