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Upper respiratory symptoms are observed more in patients infected with the new strain Omicron as compared to Delta, Dr Dhiren Gupta of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi, said on Sunday.

“In pediatric patients, younger than 2 years, belong to high risk and patients of 11 to 12 years show more symptoms and are at less risk," he added. 

Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, a Senior Consultant at Apollo Hospitals has also said that some are showing different symptoms also like loose motion, vomiting and others.

“A few people are complaining of loose motions as well. Vomiting as well not being able to eat and also lack of smell and taste," he said.

"We should definitely not take Omicron lightly because a few fraction of the patients will definitely become sick. We are already seeing a rise in hospitalizations. I suppose we don't think that Omicron is that virulent, but if you have underlying uncontrolled diabetes, you have bronchitis or asthma, you're going to become sick," he further said.

‘If you belong to the vulnerable population…’

"Even before Omicron or even before this COVID came in all these patients who were immunocompromised or who were vulnerable, became sick with any infection. So what I will say is because it is so highly infectious, and so many people are getting infected, you might be young, you might come over it but if you belong to the vulnerable population, then don't take it lightly," he added.

Dr Chatterjee said that few patients are reporting similar symptoms that were reported in Delta-like loss of smell and taste, "We need to see as to what is happening, about a few of my patients have again complained of loss of smell and taste, which I don't know, every individual patient we are not knowing whether it is Omicron or whether it's Delta because we know that is COVID positive, which is important, but I am seeing an overlap of the symptoms. But what I don't know is whether this person has Omicron or whether this person has delta. So when in the next couple of weeks, obviously the government will also disclose it. And we from our clinical experience will also know whether there is an overlap or they're having similar symptoms as well."

Further speaking on how long the symptoms last in Omicron patients he said, "What we are seeing is three to five days, most of the patients whom I am treating online are becoming well in three to five days. The first three to five days they are having a lot of throat pain, fever at least about 102-103 degrees Fahrenheit than having headache and body ache this is what they are having. Most of the people are having this symptom, and by the third day, they're improving on their own even without any antibiotic and obviously this newer drug is to be used with real passion. We should not use this medication just like that. So even patients are improving on their own in three to five days time. When the fever is persisting beyond that time, then it becomes a bit concerning.

Meanwhile, the Delhi government has assuaged fears of migrant workers and businessmen, saying to protect livelihoods, its attempt is to impose minimum Covid-related restrictions and not a lockdown.

The national capital in the past few days has seen a massive spike in daily cases, with migrants workers fearing a lockdown, like those imposed during the 2020 and last year Covid waves, could further dent their earnings, landing them into a severe financial crisis.

Addressing an online conference, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal stressed that the hospitalisation rate is low and that there will be no need of a lockdown if everyone wears a mask.

"Rising Covid cases are a matter of concern but there is no need to panic. Very few people are getting hospitalised. Wearing mask is very important. There will be no lockdown if you continue to wear mask. There is no plan to impose a lockdown as of now," he said.

The Delhi government has already announced night and weekend curfews, among other restrictions, to check the spread of the coronavirus.

Kejriwal said that he along with Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Centre is keeping a close eye on the Covid situation.

"Our attempt is to impose minimum restrictions so livelihoods are not affected," he said.

Delhi on Saturday, recorded seven fatalities due to Covid and 20,181 cases as the positivity rate rose to 19.60 per cent, while on Friday, the city recorded 17,335 cases, the highest single-day rise since May 8, and nine deaths, with a positivity rate of 17.73 per cent.

The figures on Thursday, stood at 15,097 fresh cases, six deaths and a positivity rate of 15.34 per cent.

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain has repeatedly stressed that most Covid cases, this time, are mild or asymptomatic, not requiring hospitalisation.

Delhi has reported six times lower hospital admissions due to the coronavirus this time as compared to the first wave of infections, he had said on Friday.

There are a total of 48,178 active cases in the city, but only 1,480 Covid patients are in hospitals. Only 27 of them are on ventilator support, according to government data.

Chamber of Trade and Industry chairman Brijesh Goyal and president Subhash Khandelwal said that businessmen are worried about a lockdown.

The Omicron (variant of Covid) is not that dangerous. Many patients are recovering in home isolation, they claimed, adding that additional restrictions on markets will lead to financial losses to businessmen and their employees.

Migrant workers said the situation so far has been manageable.

"(Arvind) Kejriwal has said there will be no lockdown. A weekend curfew is manageable. I hope the situation doesn't worsen," Sudhan Mandal, 33, said.

Working at a government construction project in Central Delhi, Mandal said he had returned home in West Bengal's Malda district during the 2020 lockdown.

"It had become really difficult to arrange food during the first lockdown. It instilled fear among migrant workers. In 2021, I was so scared that I left for home before the lockdown started," he said.

Swapan Jadhav, 35, a rickshaw puller from Jharkhand's Sahebganj district, said families on the breadline would never want a lockdown.

"I have six members in my family, including four children. I went back to my village during the two lockdowns, but I could hardly find enough work there too. I can still manage with a weekend curfew, but a complete lockdown will break our back," he said.

If a lockdown becomes inevitable, the government should take care of lodging and food, Jadhav said.

Raj Kumar, 33, working at a government housing project site in Sewa Nagar, said that he and his co-workers were badly beaten up by police at the Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border when they were walking home during the first lockdown in 2020.

"Once I reached home, the situation became worse. There was no work for days. I did odd jobs to eke out a living," Kumar, a resident of Uttar Pradesh's Sambhal district, said.

"I stayed in Delhi for the entire lockdown duration last year. There was no point being beaten up by police again and remain jobless at home. The situation is not that bad this time. I survived the second lockdown, I can survive this too," he added.

Mohammad Saleem, 53, said he has realised there is no point returning home again and again.

"Earlier, people did not know much about coronavirus. Now, we have experienced it," the rickshaw puller said. "I will sleep in my rickshaw if a lockdown is imposed again. My only request is that the government make arrangement for our food at least," he added.

With agency inputs

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