The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has ripped through the country in less than a month, but while it’s dominated our case numbers, Delta still dominates the hospitals.
Early data shows that while Omicron is the most transmissible variant we’ve seen, it’s not as severe as Delta. In fact it has a 20 to 25 per cent reduced chance of a hospital visit than Delta, and at least a 40 per cent lower risk of being admitted overnight.
So what are the differences in symptoms? And if you test positive, how can you tell which one you have?
Several studies have shown new symptoms with Omicron, with one in particular emerging as the key difference between it and other variants.
Discovery Health, South Africa’s largest private health insurer, has released data collected from more than 211,000 people who have tested positive to suggest that a scratchy throat may be the stand-out symptom of Omicron.
Patients have reported feeling like they’d been yelling or singing loudly, making their voices huskier or deeper than usual before they started to feel sick.
This had previously not been a common symptom of COVID, so it’s something to monitor closely if you’ve been going out and singly a lot — and especially if you haven’t.
It found that the next most-common Omicron symptoms were nasal congestion, a dry cough and lower back pain.
With Delta on the other hand, while several symptoms cross over, fever was the most common, which is less common in Omicron.
Dr Angelique Coetzee, the South African doctor who first alerted authorities to the new COVID-19 variant last month, has also described the symptoms of Omicron as very different from Delta but also “very, very mild” in comparison, as reported by Al Jazeera.
She has described muscle aches, fatigue, a scratchy throat and night sweats as common Omicron symptoms.
A UK study that analysed symptoms reported by patients via a tracing app has reported the five most common symptoms as a runny nose, headaches, fatigue, sneezing and a sore or scratchy throat.
It reported that sore throats were more common with Omicron than the Alpha strain of COVID.
So your symptoms may not just be a hangover after all.
If it’s Omicron, look out for a scratchy throat or a hoarse voice, runny nose and congestion, headaches, a dry cough, fatigue, sneezing, lower back pain, body aches, night sweats and even conjunctivitis.
If you have Delta, you’ll most likely get a fever and experience a cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose and congestion, headaches, fatigue, muscle or joint pain, nausea or loss of appetite, diarrhoea or vomiting, and a temporary loss of taste or smell.