Stealth omicron: China's Covid outbreak fueled by sub-variant; 5 things to know

Published on Mar 15, 2022 11:45 AM IST

On Tuesday China reported over 5,200 new cases in 24 hours and nearly 30 million people are under lockdown already.

China's covid outbreak fueled by stealth omicron. (STR / AFP)
China's covid outbreak fueled by stealth omicron. (STR / AFP)
By | Written by Manjiri Sachin Chitre | Edited by Chandrashekar Srinivasan

China is witnessing its biggest surge in Covid-19 cases since the early days of the pandemic - a surge fueled by the 'stealth' sub-variant of Omicron. On Tuesday China reported over 5,200 new cases in 24 hours and nearly 30 million people are under lockdown already. Before this, the country had officially seen only two days of daily Covid infections exceeding the 5,000-mark - both during the initial outbreak in Wuhan. According to the National Health Commission in China, 1,337 locally transmitted cases have been reported in the last 24-hours. The country has seen symptomatic cases confirmed in 28 of 31 mainland provinces.

This outbreak comes at a time when several other countries are witnessing a decline in coronavirus infections and are easing restrictions.

Also read: Covid-19: China battles multiple outbreaks driven by 'stealth Omicron', logs 5,280 new cases | 5 updates

Here are 5 things to know about 'stealth omicron':

1. The sub-variant is also known as the BA.2 variant and is different from the parent variant. The sub-variant is concerning because it is hard to detect. This variant is missing key mutations in the spike protein which are generally necessary for rapid PCR tests to identify the infection.

2. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the BA.2 variant is likely to have the same severity as the 'original' one.

3. Dizziness and fatigue are two of the most early-stage reported symptoms in patients infected by the stealth omicron. These symptoms are likely to appear within two to three days after being infected with the virus. Other symptoms may also include fever, extreme fatigue, coughing, sore throat, sore hand, muscular fatigue, cold, and elevated heart rate.

4. As per the WHO, the Omicron variant primarily affects the upper respiratory tract. Like Delta, the BA.2 variant does not affect the lungs, ruling out symptoms such as loss of taste or smell, and shortness of breath.

5. The sub-variant has fueled a massive outbreak in China. It is also becoming dominant in other countries including the Philippines, Nepal, Qatar, Denmark, and India.

Read more: Covid| 'What happens in UK, Europe doesn't stay there...': A US expert warns

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