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Early Omicron Reports Show Lessened Severity

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Since emerging from South Africa several weeks ago, the Omicron variant of the coronavirus has become the region’s dominant variant, supplanting the Delta variant. However, while the virus is still spreading and causing hospitalizations, there is one positive sign: hospitalizations don’t seem to have increased in any notable capacity. This suggests that while Omicron is still contagious, potentially more so than Delta, its impact on a human body may actually be lessened.

“Thus far, it does not look like there’s a great degree of severity to it,” chief medical adviser to the President Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN. “But we have really got to be careful before we make any determinations that it is less severe or it really doesn’t cause any severe illness, comparable to Delta.”

Once further determinations on Omicron have been made, the US may be able to lift travel restrictions from some African countries, though on the condition that regular COVID safety protocols are maintained. “Hopefully we’ll be able to lift that ban in a quite reasonable period of time,” Fauci said. “We all feel very badly about the hardship that has been put on not only on South Africa but the other African countries.”

As of yesterday, cases of Omicron-based COVID-19 have been cited in approximately a third of the United States, while Delta still remains the dominant strain. Medical researchers have urged citizens to remain cautious by continuing to vaccinate and wear masks, as even if Omicron is less intense, it can still cause severe enough cases of COVID-19 to warrant hospitalization.

“Even if we have a large number of cases that are mild, some of those individuals will need hospitalizations,” World Health Organization epidemiologist Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove told CBS. “They will need to go into ICU and some people will die. … We don’t want to see that happen on top of an already difficult situation with Delta circulating globally.”

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