The World Health Organization has warned against describing the symptoms of the COVID-19 pandemic's latest highly infectious Omicron variant as being “mild," saying the variant is killing people around the world.
Simply put, COVID-19—regardless of the variant—is not a mild illness like the common cold.
Omicron is still dangerous to human health and passes more easily to others than previous variants, even among people who have had both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
BC recorded nearly 9,500 new cases of COVID-19 over the New Year's weekend, nearly 80 per cent from Omicron. This represents the largest spike since the pandemic began over two years ago.
The problem is one of numbers. Even if patients with Omicron report milder symptoms than other variants of COVID-19, the variant causes so many more cases that it greatly increases the likelihood some people will require medical care.
Some of these cases can develop into severe illness requiring hospitalization, with potential for health complications that can lead to death.
Omicron is still a massive disruption to everybody's lives, even those indirectly impacted by it.
With more people calling in sick there are increased work absences -including essential workers and health care staff - extended school closures (Kindergarten to Grade 12 return is delayed to Jan. 10); cancelled surgeries, backlogs of medical procedures, and other waitlists.
These disruptions put lives at risk and have an impact on everyone, even those who have never had COVID-19.
If there is a silver lining, it's that data shows that ongoing immunization efforts are working. People who have completed their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines (two doses of the mRNA vaccines) are better protected from severe illness and hospitalization than those who are unvaccinated. Booster doses further improve protection.
Continued vigilance against COVID-19 by following all recommended public health measures is crucial for slowing the spread of Omicron and containing and ending the pandemic:
More information about Omicron is coming forward every day. What is known for certain: COVID-19 is still a real threat and - regardless of the variant - is not a “mild" illness.
For information about the COVID-19 vaccine, testing, prevention and protection, informational videos from our doctors, and more, visit our COVID-19 web page.
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