Though Covid-19 has eased across the globe, the threat of infection still hovers around. Doctors in the UAE say that the latest Covid threat has been constituted by the subvariant of Omicron known as BA.5, which is highly contagious and can even infect vaccinated/infected people, according to scientists and researchers.

Medicos say that the symptoms of all the previous variants and the new variants are the same which include tiredness, body ache, runny nose, mild cough, loss of appetite, changes in smell or taste, breathing difficulty, fever, few gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhoea and a tender stomach, however the complexity and severity of the new variants are very mild.

“The recent variant is milder in intensity and the decline in health condition is also not very quick, but the transmission risk is quite high, as it spreads rapidly,” said Dr Mais M Mauwfak, specialist internal medicine and head of intensive care at Thumbay Hospital Ajman.

Addressing the severity of symptoms, Dr Mauwfak said that hospitalisation rates have decreased to a great extent as compared to patients infected with by earlier variants.

Talking about the comparison between variants, doctors said the speed of deterioration is what differentiates them. Covid-19 complications include long-term hospitalisation, permanent lung damage and oxygen therapy.

Dr Vikas Bhagat, specialist intensive care medicine, Aster Hospital, Mankhool said that complications among people infected by Covid was quite high two years ago. “Nowadays, patients with complications are recovering fast,” said Dr Bhagat.

“However, the new variants are highly contagious and they can spread fast,” he added.

A study by King's College, London, which was conducted on 1400 people, was an eye-opener for medical professionals and the public, experts said.

Three findings from the study were revealed. “Firstly, neurological symptoms like brain fog, persistent headaches, and fatigue were linked with patients infected by alpha and delta variants,” explained Dr Mauwfak.

“Secondly, most people reported respiratory conditions like chest pain and shortness of breath, indicating damage to lungs,” she added.

In the final finding, several people experienced long-term issues such as heart palpitations, muscle aches, pain as well as changes in their skin and hair. "These were concluded as long-term,” said Dr Bhagat.

However, Dr Mauwfak found some patients suffering from overlapping symptoms. “A patient can have a respiratory condition as well as brain fog. Because Covid-19 is a debilitating condition, it depletes stored nutrients in the body. The only way to replenish it is by consuming nutritious and healthy foods," said Dr Mauwfak.

She highlighted that approximately 2-5 per cent of people who were infected during the first wave have been visiting the hospital for long-term Covid treatment.

Medicos have advised residents to take special care of mental health, and address any stress and anxiety issues. They also urged resident to strictly follow safety protocols like wearing masks in public places, washing or sanitizing hands and maintaining physical distance in crowded places.

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