Coronavirus: Will the Omicron BF.7 lead to another wave of COVID-19? Symptoms to not confuse with cold or flu

Just as we thought the pandemic was coming to an end, the surge in COVID-19 cases in China has alarmed people around the world. The latest variant – BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron – is believed to be driving the increasing number of infections in the country, despite the Zero COVID policy, which was only recently relaxed.
Four cases of the same coronavirus variant have been reported in India so far, urging the government to issue certain precautionary guidelines and the people to continue practicing COVID-appropriate behaviour. However, the real question is whether the BF.7 Omicron subvariant will lead to a new wave of coronavirus in India?

Dr Sushila Kataria, Senior Director, Internal Medicine, Medanta, Gurugram, says that the Omicron BF.7 is a dominant variant currently circulating and driving the number of cases in China, Europe and other countries. She says that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the variant as a variant of concern, which is why she believes the number of COVID cases in India may also increase.
“This variant has been in circulation since August 2022. The number of cases may increase because of this variant because of the immune escape phenomena which means that people who are already vaccinated or infected may get the infection again,” she says.

Is COVID situation in India well-contained?

Dr Kataria believes that the risk of severe disease is low.

“The baseline immunity will prevent severe disease. Despite the increase in the cases, the healthcare system will not see an overload because the infection will not be severe. So far the reports indicate that it is not causing hospitalization or severe disease. This variant is more transmissible but does not cause severe disease,” she explains.

Similarly, Dr Ravi Shekhar Jha, director and head, pulmonology, Fortis Hospitals, Faridabad, believes that the BF.7 variant is a subvariant of Omicron variant, which could not do much damage in India. While he is of the opinion that India may be facing another challenge of a new COVID wave, he says, “Since majority of the Indians got infected with the Omicron variant, herd immunity has probably been developed and that is one of the reasons why we have not seen any major casualties post that.”

However, the doctor warns against letting your guard down.

“As it is known that this virus has the potential to mutate fast, into dangerous variants, it is very important that we do not lower our guard. We must make sure to limit the New Year celebrations, and avoid going to crowded places. It is of paramount importance to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.”

Furthermore, the doctor warns against negligence, since it is also the season of flu. He advises that we all take our Flu vaccines after discussion with the doctors.

Emphasizing on the important of COVID vaccines, Dr Kataria says, “Prevention against COVID requires vaccination.” She recommends getting your booster shots immediately as it is said to reduce severity of infection and hospitalisation. In addition, masks and maintaining hand hygiene reduce transmission, as per the doctor.

Symptoms that may seem like a normal cold, but may be COVID

Dr Jha says, “If the symptoms like fever and cough persist beyond 5 days, you must get yourself tested.”

Some of the symptoms may often be confused with or mistaken for cold, flu and other respiratory infections.

However, some of the most common and classic symptoms include:

– Sore throat
– Fever
– Runny nose
– Cough

– Fatigue
– Body ache
– Headache
– Shortness of breath

Best to take all necessary precautions and measures during this festive season. Make sure you help protect yourself and the most vulnerable individuals.

FAQs

  1. What is the Omicron BF.7?
    Omicron BF.7 is a subvariant of COVID’s Omicron variant. It is responsible for the latest surge in COVID-19 cases in China and other parts of the world.
  2. What are the classic symptoms of COVID-19?
    The classic symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, sore throat, body ache, headache, fatigue, runny nose, shortness of breath and more.
  3. How to prevent COVID-19 infection?
    Some of the best ways to prevent a COVID-19 infection is by wearing a well-fitted mask, maintaining social distance, following proper hand hygiene and getting your vaccines and booster shots on time.

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