6 min read
by the Healthdex team
The start of the new year is not pleasant for the Philippines. COVID-19 cases have been skyrocketing for the past weeks. Most of these cases are still of the Delta variant; however, experts and specialists have detected a local transmission of the Omicron variant as well. As of January 15, there have been 43 confirmed Omicron cases. Additionally, DOH expects the Omicron cases to double in February. The Omicron variant is reported to be more transmissible than previous variants. So how can we prepare ourselves to avoid contracting this variant?
With the variant starting to spread, we need to prepare our bodies in order to fight against the variant. Vaccines are a way of ensuring our protection against the variant. It trains our immune cells to recognize the COVID-19 virus and to produce antibodies in preparation for when we encounter the virus itself. Boosters are highly encouraged after receiving the first and second dose of COVID-19 vaccines because the protection from vaccines decreases over time. Booster shots give our bodies prolonged protection when the immunity protection is not enough to protect our bodies from the virus.
We need to be familiar with the symptoms exhibited for those that have already contracted the virus to better prepare ourselves for the variant. Symptoms of the omicron variant are usually exhibited within 3 days to a week. These symptoms are similar to that of a cold, which includes low-grade fever, sore throat, cough, congestion and runny nose, headache, and fatigue. Experts report that for individuals who have not received a booster shot yet may experience more coughing and fatigue. These symptoms serve as a warning that we have contracted the virus.
When we recognize the aforementioned symptoms, it is essential to immediately schedule an appointment to get tested or purchase a test kit. Testing immediately is highly encouraged in order to control the spread of the virus. Delaying the test would lead to more people contracting the virus because we would unknowingly pass it on to others.
As per the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is highly suggested to get tested 5 days after exposure. For those who are vaccinated, if you have been exposed to an individual who has or may have contracted the virus, 5 days is the recommended. For those unvaccinated, it is encouraged to get tested immediately. If the result yields a negative, CDC recommends unvaccinated people to get tested again 5 days after the exposure. Below is a diagram to better visualize this.
Staying at home is still one of the best ways to avoid contracting the virus. If we keep going out for unnecessary reasons, we have a higher chance of contracting the virus. Even if we use face shields and masks, we are still more likely to contract the virus compared to when we are at home. However, if it is a necessary trip like buying groceries, we need to ensure that we wear our masks, maintain distance from others, and constantly sanitize. Furthermore, it is best to take trips to well-ventilated areas.
Whether it is at home, in your car, at the office, you need to have good ventilation. Experts have reported that COVID is airborne. In order to combat this, you need to make sure there is sufficient air flow in the space you are in.
As we know, it is important to wear at least a 3-ply surgical mask or a cloth mask with a filter, however, it is highly recommended to upgrade your masks to N95 or KN95 masks, especially with the threat of Omicron. These masks are more efficient and effective in preventing tiny particles from passing through and entering your nose or mouth. They are made to fit properly and use materials that are more efficient in filtering out the air we breathe. Using these masks is highly recommended especially in crowded areas.
Although the omicron variant is spread through the air we breathe, sanitizing your hands and items that came from outside is an extra precaution we can take to avoid contracting the virus. It is a good practice to maintain cleanliness and hygiene to avoid contracting the omicron variant as well as other viruses like E. coli and MRSA. Taking extra precautions is necessary especially when we are often in contact with individuals who are at high-risk of contracting the virus.
Preparation is the key to stopping the virus and preventing more variants from emerging. Preparing ourselves will lessen the possibility of us contracting the virus; hence, it will lead to lessening the spread of the virus as well. Likewise, it will aid in maintaining good health and well-being for us and our loved ones.