Nepal’s Ministry of Health and Population has urged vigilance after Omicron variant was confirmed in 24 samples via gene sequencing from the 250 samples collected.  Issuing a Press Release, MoHP has advised hospitals to prepare themselves for another possible wave of Covid-19. In its Press Release it urged hospitals across the nation to equip themselves with medical supplies and resources including oxygen supply.

MoHP has also reminded the public to continue practicing precautionary methods which include using a mask, washing one’s hands regularly, and to maintain physical distancing.

The Omicron variant, first detected in November, 2021, has been a variant of concern. Listed below are some frequently asked questions as sourced from WHO’s website:

What is the Omicron variant?

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and a lot of research underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk.

Where is the Omicron variant present?

The Omicron variant has now been detected in many countries around the world. WHO reports that Omicron is probably in most countries, even if it hasn’t been detected yet.

Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants?

Early findings suggest that Omicron might be less severe than the Delta variant, but more data is needed and WHO warns that it should not be dismissed as “mild”. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available.

It is important to remember that all variants of COVID-19 can cause severe disease or death, including the Delta variant that is still dominant worldwide, which is why preventing the spread of the virus and reducing your risk of exposure to the virus is so important.

Is the Omicron variant more contagious?

Omicron is spreading more quickly than other variants. Based on the information available, WHO believes it is likely that Omicron will outpace the Delta variant where there is COVID-19 transmission in the community.

However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants.

Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?

WHO reports that early evidence suggests that previous infection could offer less protection against Omicron in comparison to other variants of concern, such as Delta. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available.

You should get vaccinated even if you’ve previously had COVID-19. While people who recover from COVID-19 may develop some natural immunity to the virus, we do not yet know how long it lasts or how well you are protected. Vaccines offer more reliable protection.