There is no need to impose tougher restrictions over the Omicron variant as the cases are “predominantly mild”, the head of South Africa Medical Association Dr. Angelique Coetzee has said.
The South African GP was the first medic who raised concern about the new Covid-19 variant four weeks ago. Answering questions of the UK Parliament’s Science and Technologies committee on Tuesday, Dr Coetzee said that “we don’t have all the answers” and that “we need to see how this virus progresses”.
However, the current picture shows that Omicron is a “mild disease”, less dangerous than Delta variant, thought it might be more transmissible, she added. Dr Coetzee said that the existing data, though limited, shows that the symptoms in Omicron patients, even in those who are hospitalized, are milder, they get better quicker and there have been no cases of long COVID in these patients.
Therefore, she noted that before imposing travel bans and other tough restrictions it would make sense for governments to take measures internally: to get more people vaccinated, make sure that they are wearing masks, avoid crowded places, and keep social distance.
Saying that South Africa is “still on the same level of restrictions”, she underlined that “we don’t see the need for stricter restrictions.”
“The virus is everywhere. Maybe in a way we need to learn how to live with this,” she said.
Earlier, in an article for Daily Mail, Dr. Coetzee was even more straightforward in her criticism of what she called “knee-jerk reactions” to the news of discovery of the new COVID variant. The UK was one of the first countries to impose bans on travel from South Africa in the aftermath of the announcement.
“Indeed, I am disappointed by such knee-jerk reactions. They bear no relation to what we’re seeing in surgeries in South Africa, where people rarely even discuss Omicron. As one Twitter user commented: ‘Covid’s become a UK neurosis,’” she wrote.