Coved-19 cases are on the rise again. In at least eight U.S. states, infections have risen 50 percent since the previous week. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, parts of New York have moved to the “high” mark of the Coved-19 community.
The growth in the United States was driven by the new BA.2.12.1 variant, which is a branch of the Omicron subvariant BA.2. Meanwhile, South Africa is facing its own Covid-19 wave caused by two more Omicron options, BA.4 and BA.5.
What do people need to know about these new sub-options, especially as many gather for holidays such as Mother’s Day and graduation parties? What precautions should they take? How can people measure their risk, and are there churches that people should skip?
To guide us on these questions, I asked Dr. CNN Medical Analyst. Liana Wen, Ambulance Physician and Professor of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health, George Washington University, Milken Institute. She is also the author of Life Lines: A Doctor’s Journey in the Struggle for Public Health and a mother of two.
CNN: What about these new Omicron subvarians?
Dr. Liana Wen: As we know, the original version of Omicron was much more transient than previous versions like the Delta version. People with Omicron were less likely to get the disease than those with Delta. And although vaccines are less effective against some of the previous options against Omicron, vaccines and boosters provide excellent protection against severe disease caused by Omicron.
These new Omicron subvariants look similar. There is no evidence that they cause serious illness, and vaccinations and boosters are still the best way to protect against serious illness. However, they appear to be more contagious than the original Omicron BA.1, so it is more difficult to avoid the coronavirus than before.
CNN: Are these new sub-options still spreading?
Wen: Oh yes. Recall that the virus that causes SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, is a respiratory virus that can be transmitted in close contact and through the air (through the air). If you are near an infected person and he or she coughs or sneezes, these particles can infect you.
Also, because Covid-19 is transmitted through the air, it can only be transmitted through a person who breathes or speaks. There is also a theoretical possibility of a surface infection, that is, if an infected person touches a doorknob, you touch it, and if you touch your nose or mouth, the infection may be transmitted.
This means that the precautions we have been talking about are still working to prevent Covid-19 infection. Masking reduces the likelihood of inhaling aerosols or other particles emitted by someone else, and the type of mask is really important.
These new options are so contagious that a fabric mask is not enough. You really need to wear a high quality respirator mask like N95, KN95 or KF94. Make sure the mask fits well. Adults who cannot afford such masks or young children should wear at least a 3-layer surgical mask to wear these masks. For better fit, they can wear a fabric mask on the surface.
Ventilation is also key. It is much safer outside than at home. And inside the house, there is a big difference between a large room with open windows and a lot of space and a small narrow enclosed area where people gather.
And don’t forget to wash your hands. Effective hand washing with soap and water protects not only the coronavirus but also other pathogens.
CNN: What precautions are needed PWhat do people receive when they attend graduation parties, Mother’s Day celebrations and other events?
Wen: There are three main types of precautions – vaccines, testing and masks. How much you decide to take depends on your medical condition, the level of Covid-19 in your community, and how much you want to stay away from Covid-19.
First, let’s talk about three precautions. Vaccines and boosters provide good protection against severe disease. They also reduce the risk of infection. If you have a valid one, make sure you upgrade your amplifier when deciding on a second amplifier.
Taking a quick home test before a meeting also reduces the risk. These tests measure how infected you are at the time, so take them as close to the gathering place as possible. A negative test three days ago means that you do not have enough Covid-19; That doesn’t mean you’re not contagious right now. If everyone passes a negative test before assembly, this will also reduce the risk.
Of course, the mask also reduces the risk. I don’t think it’s very practical to ask that many social events where people gather for dinner and include food and drinks can’t make the mask a reality. However, if you are seriously ill with Covid-19 and really want to avoid the coronavirus, wearing a mask is your choice, even if you are not around.
You can attend the graduation ceremony with N95 or other high quality mask. You can go to the reception after everyone else is eating and drinking, but you don’t want to. And you can choose to go to a small Mother’s Day party with a carefully checked close family, not a big party.
In my opinion, as the CDC recommends, everyone should consider wearing a mask in dangerous conditions, such as crowded airports and train stations. This will reduce your chances of getting infected from these settings and then you may have to skip graduation or other activities that are valuable to you.
CNN: Do you suggest vaccination and testing requirements at events?
Wen: It depends on the story. If it’s outside, I don’t think both requirements are necessary. In-house activities involving large numbers of people, especially in areas infected with Covid-19, should take into account vaccination evidence and the need for ideal amplifiers. Reduces the risk of testing on the same day.
If you have a high risk of Covid-19 complications, or if you really do not want to get the coronavirus, you may want to take extra precautions. Wear a mask as I said above, and if you don’t give up food and drink and don’t always wear a mask, skip the internal activities with food and drink. Make a plan in advance, including if you feel uncomfortable, and choose to leave.
I would also advise people that there is a risk of getting Covid-19 when you are in contact with others. This does not mean that you should not hold any meetings. This means that you need to be aware of your risks and think about how much you want to avoid the coronavirus. If you want to avoid it, take extra precautions. Be aware that newer and more infectious subvariants mean that coronavirus is more difficult to prevent.
Some people may decide that they want to take part in a truly dangerous event, despite the risks. If so, they should be screened three days after the incident and before visiting family members with weakened immune systems. Also, find out in advance if you are eligible for treatment, such as antiviral pills.
It is unrealistic to tell people to stay away from meetings during a pandemic. But we can help people to understand and balance their risks, as well as to take precautions both in and out of events.