*Severe Covid patients belong to the unvaccinated group
*Vaccines still the best defence against Covid-19: MoPH
The new Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus generally causes only mild or moderate symptoms but more studies are needed to evaluate its long-term impact on the health of the infected people, Dr Soha al-Bayat, Head of Vaccination at the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) Sunday said.
Speaking to Qatar TV, Dr Soha al-Bayat pointed out that the number of people infected with the new strain started to increase slightly in last November in the country.
However, over the past two weeks the increase in Covid-19 cases has been considerably high, and it has been noticed that the majority of the infected cases were among the unvaccinated persons or those who have passed more than six months since taking the second dose of the vaccine.
Besides, she explained that it is winter time and it is normal for some diseases and infections of this sort to increase due to the change in weather. She added that the world including Qatar is mostly entering a third wave of the pandemic, mostly due to the new variant Omicron, which transmits quickly as one person could infect up to six others.
She said that the preliminary information and data on this variant indicate that though it spreads quickly it has mild symptoms and does not cause severe illness. Yet, she explained that this is only preliminary data and it is not clear until now whether it would later have severe consequences or complications.
She stressed that while the new variant could be easy on healthy people, it is not clear yet whether it would be severe on the elderly, children and those with weak immunity.
Accordingly, she advised any person who experiences the related symptoms to go for a PCR test or the rapid antigen test which are affordable and all of these are available across around 130 heath facilities across the country, including all the Primary Health Care Corporation's health centers. She noted that the rapid tests are cheap and easily accessible and have proven to be accurate up to more than 80%.
She also stressed that all the decisions taken in this regard are based on both international and local studies and researches in the field. That is why the decision was taken to advise people to take a booster dose after the passage of six months from the second dose of the vaccine.
"Currently, the symptoms are very mild and simple and the recommendation is to self-quarantine for five days in a dedicated room with a dedicated toilet. During the next five days, the person could go out of his room (but stay inside the house) but should wear a face mask all the time within the family surroundings. At the time of food the infected person should go back to his room to avoid contact with others," she said.
She noted that in case of more complications or any inquiries, the person could call 16000 and listen carefully to the instruction to get the required assistance. In case of need, a fully equipped vehicle will go to the person and do the necessary.
She said that last week, there were four related deaths, and all of them had never been inoculated. Besides, most of the cases admitted at the Intensive Care Units are from among the unvaccinated or those who have passed six months after taking the second dose but have not taken the booster dose.
She further stressed the safety of all the three doses of the vaccine and said no one in Qatar has been admitted at the ICU or died, or even experienced severe symptoms due to any dose of the vaccine.
Accordingly, she strongly advised all residents to go for the third (booster) dose and abide by the preventive and precautionary measures that have proven effective against the spread of the disease, in particular wearing the face masks. Further, she pointed out that Qatar has succeeded in controlling the pandemic due to the high awareness and cooperation of the people.