Despite reports of milder symptoms Omicron should not be understimated

While anecdotal accounts suggest the variant may cause less severe illness and it will take weeks for definitive data

Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage

As the world scrambles to contain the new variant, some are hopefully seizing on anecdotal reports from South Africa that it may cause only mild illness. But although previous variants of the coronavirus have been associated with different symptoms and severity, it would be dangerous to assume that Omicron is a viral pussy cat, experts say.

At a briefing convened by South Africa’s Department of Health on Monday, Unben Pillay, a GP from practising in Midrand on the outskirts of Johannesburg, said that while “it is still early days” the cases he was seeing were typically mild: “We are seeing patients present with dry cough, fever, night sweats and a lot of body pains. Vaccinated people tend to do much better.”

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