Omicron is not a common cold, experts have issued warnings!

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Ever since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a period of infection-related misinformation on social media from time to time. One of the most prevalent lies is the claim that COVID-19 is another type of seasonal flu.

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The latest misinformation is that Omicron is the common cold. The claim comes at a time when India and the world, especially some European countries and the United States are battling a huge jump in COVID-19 infections.

Similar versions of the claim have been shared on both social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter. Researchers are trying to decipher the new Omicron variant first identified in South Africa on 24 November. 

Preliminary studies suggest that Omicron may be less severe than previous variants such as Delta that caused a fatal second wave in India.
Dr Charles Chiu, an infectious disease specialist in the United States, says Omicron should not be considered part of the list of viruses that cause the common cold. It was Dr. Chiu's laboratory at the University of California-San Francisco that detected the first Omicron case in the US.
The most common symptoms of Omicron are similar to the symptoms of the common cold, such as runny nose, congestion, cough, and fatigue. But both are not same. COVID-19 and the common cold are caused by different viruses. COVID-19, caused by SARS-CoV-2, first emerged in 2019.

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People usually recover from a common cold in seven to 10 days, and the infection does not usually require medical attention. On the other hand, Omicron can cause more severe disease.

Meanwhile, experts say that the next two weeks will be crucial for India as the country has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases, mostly triggered by the Omicron version. Some are also calling it the third wave of the epidemic in India.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan wrote on Twitter: "Omicron is not the common cold. The health system can collapse. It is important to have systems in place to test, advise and monitor large numbers of patients as the increase can be sudden and massive."

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Monday said the genome sequencing report shows that the Omicron type has been found in 84 per cent of the samples tested. The Center has also warned states and union territories that the new version is three times more permeable than the highly contagious delta version.