Hoarseness and a sore throat are more common symptoms of being infected with the Omicron variant, a new study has revealed.
For those with only two doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the duration for symptoms is around 8.3 days, according to The Lancet. The findings, to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Lisbon later this month, followed a study by Kings College London.
Patients with the Omicron variant are 25pc less likely to be admitted to hospital and 2.5 times more likely to recover within one week than patients who contracted the Delta variant.
If the results are confirmed by viral load studies, the period of infectiousness for Omicron might be shorter – which would, in turn, impact workplace health policies and public health guidance.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan is currently reviewing whether the isolation period for people infected with Covid-19 should be reduced from seven to five days.
The study found loss of smell was less common in participants infected during Omicron prevalence (17pc) than during Delta (53pc).
Sore throat was more common during Omicron, with statistical analysis showing a 55pc increased risk of sore throat for these patients.
Omicron sufferers were also 24pc more likely to develop a hoarse voice and half as likely to display at least one out of the three classic Covid-19 symptoms – fever, loss of smell and persistent cough.
The study results come as 7,005 new cases of the virus were reported yesterday, including 3,150 who tested positive after a PCR test.
The positivity rate among those taking PCR tests fell to 28.77pc yesterday, down from 36.54pc a week earlier.
The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital fell to 1,251 – a drop of 82 in a day.
Of those, 56 were in intensive care, a fall of two since Wednesday.
Dr Holohan, who appeared in private before the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday, said: “While we are clear that the pandemic is not over, the epidemiological profile of Covid-19 nationally remains broadly positive, which is demonstrated by an encouraging picture across a range of disease indicators.
“While the overall epidemiological situation indicates continuing high levels of infection and a significant number of cases receiving general hospital care, the number of hospitalised cases has fallen over recent days.
“In addition, the number of cases in intensive care remains stable. The population’s continued engagement with the vaccination programme, and the booster programme in particular, and high levels of adherence to public health measures, as well as the reduced severity of Omicron, have brought us to this improved epidemiological situation.
“We continue to focus on a number of key issues in relation to the pandemic response. Work has been ongoing between the department and the HSE regarding the national Covid-19 vaccination strategy which continues to evolve.”
Dr Holohan said that “in advising that social and economic restrictions could be removed, Nphet stressed that the pandemic is not over and that Covid-19 still poses a risk to public health”.
“While that risk may have reduced, it is important the we continue to advise anyone who has symptoms of Covid-19 should self-isolate in accordance with current guidance,” he added.
Anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 should self-isolate for seven days from the date of the onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic, the date of their first positive test.
Vulnerable individuals are advised to consider wearing masks in crowded indoor settings such as social gatherings or other activities and events.