‘Omicron discoverer’ talks about ‘various symptoms’

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“It appeared on healthy young men, and the symptoms were very different and mild from those she treated before,” says the first doctor who alerted the authorities in South Africa about the possibility of a new mutant from the Corona virus, before it was officially recognized and called “Omicron”.

Doctor Angelique Coetzee noticed the possibility of a new mutation when patients began showing illogical symptoms in her crowded private clinic in the capital, Pretoria, earlier this month.

Coetzee, 33, told the newspaper:Telegraph“Among the patients were young men of different backgrounds and races suffering from fatigue, and a six-year-old girl suffering from a very high pulse rate,” noting that none of them suffered from a loss of taste or smell.

When 4 members of one family tested positive for the emerging coronavirus, and appeared completely exhausted, on November 18, the country’s Vaccine Advisory Committee was informed, according to Dr. Coetzee, who heads the South African Medical Association next to her clinic.

She said that “about 20 of her patients showed symptoms of the new mutation. They were mostly healthy men who appeared feeling very tired,” noting that nearly half of them did not get the vaccine against the virus.

She added: “We had one very interesting case, a girl of about six years old, with a temperature and a very high pulse rate, but when I followed up on her condition two days later, she was much better.”

South African scientists say Omicron is behind the sharp rise in cases in the country’s Gauteng province, which includes the commercial capital Johannesburg and Pretoria, where cases have rocketed from about 550 a day last week to nearly 4,000 a day now.

Coetzee expressed her fear that elderly people who are not immunized will be infected with the new mutation, “We may see many severely ill with the disease.”

Only about 24 percent of South Africans have been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University data, compared to nearly 60 percent of Americans, for example.

The new mutant of the Corona virus contains a large number of mutations that make it more contagious and enable it to evade immune responses.

Preliminary data indicates that it is spreading more rapidly than the now-prevalent variant known as delta.

Within two weeks, the epidemiological situation in South Africa changed from a period of low numbers of transmission, to a rapid increase in new confirmed cases.

Omicron’s speed in infecting young people has alarmed specialists, and what appeared to be a staph infection among some university students in Pretoria reached hundreds of new cases and then thousands, first in the capital and then spread to nearby Johannesburg. Diagnostic tests have indicated that Omicron may be responsible for ninety percent of new cases, according to South African health officials.

As a precaution, several countries, including the United States, have restricted flights from some African countries while epidemiologists work to determine the extent of the new mutation.





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