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These are the symptoms of the Omicron variant that you need to keep an eye out for

The Western Cape Health Department has warned that while to date vaccinations have been shown to provide good protection against severe Covid -19 disease. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

The Western Cape Health Department has warned that while to date vaccinations have been shown to provide good protection against severe Covid -19 disease. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Dec 18, 2021

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Cape Town - If you have developed a cough, sore throat, lost of your sense of smell or taste and have shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, it is possible you may be showing signs of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and need to seek medical attention.

The Western Cape Health Department has warned that while to date vaccinations have been shown to provide good protection against severe Covid-19 disease, the symptoms of the new variant can still cause mild to moderate illness.

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Answering a query about the symptoms of the new variant, department spokesperson Byron La Hoe said that although the Omicron variant has been reported to have milder symptoms, “unvaccinated people in particular remain subject to more severe illness”.

Meanwhile, Discovery Health has released an at-scale, real-world analysis of the Omicron outbreak based on 211 000 Covid-19-positive test results in South Africa.

The survey looked at the issues of vaccine effectiveness, reinfection risk, severity and the impact on children.

With regard to the effectiveness of the vaccine, the survey found that the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination provides 70% protection against severe complications of Covid-19 requiring hospitalisation, and 33% protection against Covid-19 infection, during the current Omicron wave.

As for the risk of reinfection, the survey findings show that for individuals who have had Covid-19 previously, the risk of reinfection with Omicron is significantly higher, relative to prior variants.

The survey found that as far as severity of illness goes, the risk of hospital admission among adults diagnosed with Covid-19 is 29% lower for the Omicron variant infection, compared with infections involving the Delta mutation in South Africa’s first wave in mid-2020, after adjusting for vaccination status.

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It also found that despite very low absolute incidence, preliminary data suggests that children have a 20% higher risk of hospital admission in an Omicron-led fourth wave in South Africa, relative to the Delta-led first wave.

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Cape Argus

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