Omicron inevitable; masks, vaccines will help: Experts

“The problem with Omicron is that it spreads very fast and gives no time to prepare."
Omicron inevitable; masks, vaccines will help: Experts
A health worker vaccinates a local during a COVID vaccination drive in Srinagar. Mubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: With a new wave of COVID19 emerging in many parts of India and cases of the SARS-CoV2 steeply rising in J&K as well, influenza experts have reiterated that masks and distancing are the only time tested protection against the infection.

Speaking to Greater Kashmir, Director SKIMS Soura Prof Parvaiz A Koul, who has worked extensively on influenza said given the global trend and now the scenario in India, Omicron in Kashmir was expected to hit as well.

“Omicron will come. When? We don’t know. It is likely to be mild and will last about 4-6 weeks,” he said. He said that although the Variant is seen to cause less severe disease in most, it was highly transmissible and likely to hit more people with a higher risk. “That is something we need to be cautious about,” he said.

Prof Koul said the people need to up their guard and exercise the same safe behaviour practices that have shown “immense efficacy”. Prof Koul said the healthcare system needed to be kept ready to deal with any spurt in admissions. “We are already on it. J&K Government has been reviewing the preparedness regularly and adequate oxygen and ventilator capacity has been put in place at SKIMS Soura and other hospitals,” he said.

Prof Koul said all hospitals need to take stock of the manpower that they have trained and allocated for COVID19. “The problem with Omicron is that it spreads very fast and gives no time to prepare,” he said.

Prof S Saleem Khan, Head Department of Social and Preventive Medicine at GMC Srinagar said no case of Omicron had been confirmed in Kashmir yet but it seemed that the Virus was spreading fast in India. “This virus has higher infectivity, so the chances of spreading are very high now as compared to last year. The cases, naturally, are going to be very high,” he said. He said avoiding contact with people was an effective way of avoiding infection although it may not be possible everywhere. “If you have to step out, and have contact with people, please do use masks,” he said.

The following measures, Prof Koul said were mandatory in view of the rising infection:

Use masks all the time if you are likely to get in contact with strangers or sick people. That would mean shops, malls, restaurants

Vaccinate, if you have not already

Someone sick in home should self-quarantine and minimise contact with others especially those with co-morbid illnesses and with advanced age

People with symptoms should promptly seek medical attention at the nearest medical facility

Vaccinate if you are not already vaccinated and if you qualify for a booster, get it.

Avoid crowded settings of all kinds

Greater Kashmir