UAE: How are the latest Covid-19 symptoms different from previous variants?

Omicron variant is highly contagious and can even infect vaccinated/infected people, say experts

File photo
File photo

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Fri 5 Aug 2022, 5:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 5 Aug 2022, 10:34 PM

Though Covid-19 has eased across the globe, the threat of infection still hovers around, with UAE doctors saying that the latest threat is from the Omicron sub-variant BA.5.

According to scientists and researchers, the BA.5 variant is highly contagious and can even infect vaccinated/infected people. Medicos say that the symptoms of all the previous variants and the new variants are the same, which include tiredness, body ache, runny nose, mild cough, loss of appetite, changes in smell or taste, breathing difficulty, fever, some gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhoea and a tender stomach. However, the complexity and severity of the new variants are very mild. most doctors agree.

“The recent variant is milder in intensity and the decline in health condition is also not very quick, but the transmission risk is quite high as it spreads rapidly,” said Dr Mais M Mauwfak, specialist, internal medicine, and head of intensive care at Thumbay Hospital Ajman.

Addressing the severity of symptoms, Dr Mauwfak said hospitalisation rates have decreased to a great extent as compared to people being affected by earlier variants. Comparing the different variants, doctors have said that the speed of deterioration in a patient's condition is the differentiating factor among them. However, complications of Covid-19 contineu to include long-term hospitalisation, followed by permanent lung damage, requirement of oxygen therapy at home, etc.

Dr Vikas Bhagat, specialist, intensive care medicine, at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, said complications in people affected by Covid were quite high two years ago, but "nowadays, even the complicated cases are being treated and are recovering quickly.”

“The new variants are highly contagious, though, and the rate of their spread is very high,” cautioned Dr Bhagat.

Healthcare specialists mentioned a study conducted on 1,400 people by Kings College, London, as an eye-opener for medical professionals and the public. The study revealed three important findings.

“Firstly, neurological symptoms like brain fog, persistent headaches and fatigue were linked with patients infected during the alpha and delta variants,” explained Dr Mauwfak.

“Secondly, most people reported respiratory conditions like chest pain and shortness of breath, indicating damage to lungs.”

Clarifying the third finding, Dr Bhagat said: "A lot of people experience long-term issues such as heart palpitations, muscle aches and pains, as well as changes in their skin and hair. These were concluded as long-term."

However, Dr Mauwfak added that in their practice of treating Covid patients, doctors find that there are occasions of overlapping symptoms in a few cases.

“A patient can have both respiratory conditions and brain fog. Because Covid 19 is a debilitating condition which affects the stores of nutrients like iron and body muscle, improving food nutrients and seeking rehabilitation can help in recovering gradually from these conditions,” said Dr Mauwfak.

She highlighted that approximately 2-5 per cent of people have been visiting the hospital for treatment of long-term Covid symptoms and “these patients had been infected during the first wave”.

Doctors have advised residents to take care of their mental health and address stress and anxiety because it plays an important role in maintaining immunity. They also urged to follow the protocols of wearing masks in public places, washing hands or sanitising and physical distancing in crowded places.


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