T&T Doctor fears more Omicron cases in early 2022

FILE PHOTO: Test tubes labelled "COVID-19 Test Positive" are seen in front of displayed words "OMICRON SARS-COV-2" in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Geneticist Dr Nicole Ramlachan believes the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading among the population and more cases will come to light in the coming days.

She said the fact that two untraceable cases were detected in recent weeks means that the variant is circulating to a significant degree locally.

“It’s now starting to appear in the community and community spread which now means it’s really going to follow the pattern that we’ve seen in other countries,” she said.

In countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, Dr Ramlachan said the more infectious Omicron variant would spread rapidly within two and a half weeks as opposed to the two and a half months Delta took. Given the numerous breaches of protocols over the Christmas weekend and the further breaches anticipated over the upcoming New Year’s weekend, she said the variant would spread even further and more cases will come to light.

“Once we’re in that two…two and a half weeks period of the first incidence of appearance (of Omicron among the population)…we can assume it will become the most dominant strain because that’s pretty much what happened across the world with the (variant’s) appearance and with that the much higher transmissibility and so on,” she said.

When the variant overtakes the Delta variant as the dominant strain in circulation locally, she said there will be increased deaths – especially among the unvaccinated.

She said now is not the time to be flouting the protocols and utilising loopholes to have gatherings.

On Monday, the Medical Association’s public relations officer Dr Keegan Bhaggan expressed disappointment in the events over the Christmas weekend which he said will make a COVID-19 surge in early 2022, inevitable.

“It is so unfortunate that despite the weeks of warnings and the months of pleas that the health care workers and hospitals have been overwhelmed, that many members of the public continue to put their own lives and the lives of their loved ones at risk of death, disease and disability. The inevitable worsening that will bring in the new year will serve only to push the health care workers past our breaking point,” Dr Bhaggan said.

There are now 11 cases of the Omicron variant detected locally, however, nine of these cases were imported.

The first Omicron case among the population was detected on December 18 by the St Augustine Medical Laboratory and further confirmed by the team at the University of the West Indies.

The person was a mildly symptomatic male with no recent travel history or contact with a COVID-19 positive person.

The second case was confirmed on December 26, a national with no recent travel history who is currently under epidemiological investigation.

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