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Virus Expert Just Issued Warning About Catching Omicron

Omicron "is not a bad cold," Murphy said. "It's a life-threatening disease."
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Coronavirus cases are so high right now, there's a good chance you know someone who has it or had it—and there's also a good chance that one person's "mild" illness is another person's "intolerable." The range of symptoms from Omicron can be anywhere from "flu-like" (particularly for vaccinated people) to something that requires hospitalization (particularly for unvaccinated people). So should you be concerned? Virus experts have been studying the issue. Read on for 5 pieces of life-saving advice—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Virus Expert Warns "Omicron is Not a Bad Cold. It's a Life-Threatening Disease"

Doctors and nurses are working on corona virus/covid-19 infected patient in the ICU/ hospital.

Reports of people throwing parties to catch Omicron on purpose—thinking it's a natural way to boost immunity—have experts concerned. "You'd be crazy to try to get infected with this. It's like playing with dynamite," Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the Havey Institute for Global Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told CNN. "People are talking about Omicron like it's a bad cold. It is not a bad cold," Murphy said. "It's a life-threatening disease." Not only that but read on—it could maim you, too.

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Virus Expert Warns Omicron Can Cause Long COVID

Woman lying at bed.

Long COVID is a constellation of symptoms that include bone-crushing fatigue, migraines, brain fog and other symptoms that can ruin your life, and it's happening to an estimated 10 to 30% of people who get COVID.  "We're still trying to understand Long Covid," Dr. Paul Offit, the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told CNN. "Because we don't understand it, I wouldn't be so quick to want to get an infection from a natural virus…..A natural virus is always called the wild type virus, and there's a good reason for that: It's out of control," Offit said. "Don't ever risk catching an infection from a natural virus."

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The Good News: Virus Expert Says He Expects Cases to Fall in the Next Few Days in Boston

Female nurse examining all the parameters in operating room

Wastewater in Boston is showing lowering levels of COVID. "I think it's really good news," said virus expert Dr. Ashish Jha to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. "This has been a leading indicator, for the entire pandemic. look at it probably every few days and what it does is it tends to proceed case counts by about a week. So if you see wastewater infection numbers rising, you will see that in the case reports coming out of the department of health in about five, seven days later. This is a very short up decline. It's down about 30, 40%. It really looks like the wave has crested in Eastern Massachusetts and I expect cases to start falling in the next few days."

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Virus Expert Hopes We Could See Decline Across the Country

Friendly nurse preps patient prior to COVID-19 vaccine shot.

"In South Africa, we saw a sharp increase and then a sharp decline," said Jha. "It is not necessary that that is going to happen in every population. It really is determined by—in what populations is it spreading? What's the underlying immunity? That all said, I think most of us have been expecting a relatively quick decline, obviously hoping that we're gonna see a relatively quick decline. That's what we're seeing in New York City, we're seeing that in Washington, D.C. I'm hopeful, this wastewater data is more evidence that we're gonna see it in Boston. And obviously we're gonna wanna see it across the country."

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Virus Expert Has This Message for People in States That are Seeing Cases Rise Now

Woman with face mask getting vaccinated, coronavirus, covid-19 and vaccination concept.

"The places that have gone later, where that are still seeing increases, or let's say are just in the beginning of that Omicron wave, they are in many ways lucky—they get to learn from everybody else. And if they put in pretty aggressive mitigation efforts, they can really substantially decline, reduce the peak of that wave, have saved themselves from a lot of infections, a lot of hospitalizations and deaths. So I would see that as good information that organizations, cities, states should be using to make smarter decisions." So follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 or KN95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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