UPDATED 9:20 AM PT – Monday, December 20, 2021
According to a South African government panel, the Omicron variant is so mild there’s no need for quarantines and contact tracing.
The Ministerial Advisory Committee of South Africa said the proportion of people who are immune to COVID-19 has risen dramatically and there’s no need for restrictions. The panel also said COVID quarantines are no longer feasible from the economic and social viewpoints.
This comes as the ratio of hospitalizations to cases has dropped by 30 percent in South Africa with doctors saying the new strain is so mild most people don’t even feel it. Doctors have suggested many South Africans with Omicron don’t even notice they are infected.
“We are experiencing it as a much milder form…the idea is because it’s a mild disease, it can easily be missed,” explained Dr. Angelique Coetzee, chair South African Medical Association. “And if you can get them tested and you can make the doctors understand, on the other hand, that the person sitting in front of you might only come in with a complain of slight cold might be actually your Omicron.”
In South Africa, we’re thankfully seeing a striking decoupling between new Covid cases and ICU admissions and deaths. Whether #Omicron is inherently less virulent, whether this hopeful finding is result of baseline immunity in infected, or a combination of both, is still unclear. pic.twitter.com/xtmCSdpCNc
— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 19, 2021
The Ministerial Advisory Committee also said many “would-be” patients do not seek testing for COVID-19 because it’s burdensome and expensive.