I’m writing this in the first week of January 2022, but it may as well be 2020 or 2021. It feels as though relatively little has changed two years after the covid-19 pandemic turned the world upside down.
Sure, we’ve got vaccines now and lots of people have gotten them, but the virus seems to be mutating at an alarming rate too.
And just when we thought that things would go back to normal (as normal as can be after a mass extinction event anyway), here comes the Omicron variant.
What Is the Omicron Variant and Is It Now The Dominant Strain in Australia?
Omicron is the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. Right now, it’s also the name of the 14th covid variant. First reported in South Africa last 24 November 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) has tagged it a variant of concern. This is largely due to preliminary evidence that this variant spreads even more quickly than the Delta variant.
Is it currently the dominant strain in Australia? It could well be, if it isn’t already.
Recently, infections Down Under hit a record high of more than 37,000 with hospitalisations increasing accordingly. Just this Monday, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, as well as the Australian Capital Territory, all reported record daily cases.
Last 27 December, the country also confirmed the first death from the Omicron variant. However, the patient was in his 80’s and had pre-existing health conditions.
Just How Severe Is It?
While the Omicron variant is more contagious, early reports reveal that it is less virulent. So far, it’s inflicted mostly mild symptoms among the younger population and the vaccinated.
Will the Vaccines Work Against Omicron?
Yes, according to all the evidence so far. It also helps that Australia is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world against covid-19.
Still, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends getting a booster. They’ve also reduced the time between primary doses and booster doses to 4 months. Soon, it could be down to 3 months.
What Does This Mean For My Business?
Apparently, there’s no need to brace for a lockdown just yet. AU authorities are still planning to push on with plans for reopening the economy, but they have reinstated some restrictions.
For instance, it’s currently compulsory to check into public venues with a QR code in New South Wales. Many states have also brought back mandatory mask-wearing in all indoor public venues.
Yet the Federal Health department has advised that while the Omicron variant is more transmissible, it also has milder symptoms. Thus, there is less risk to both individuals and the healthcare system.
“We have to stop thinking about case numbers and think about serious illness, living with the virus, managing our own health and ensuring that we’re monitoring those symptoms and we keep our economy going,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quoted saying.
What Precautions Should I Take Now?
Don’t get me wrong, though. We’re not quite out of the woods yet.
“Even among vaccinated populations it is likely that Omicron will take over as the dominant variant. We should expect to see significant community spread.” Assoc Prof Stuart Turville, a virologist at the Kirby Institute, said. “Day by day we’ll know more, but for now, people should follow government advice on boosters, social distance, wear masks where appropriate and follow the public health orders.”
Businesswise, it would definitely help to establish your company’s online presence – and to cultivate a remote team to help you run it. Should things lead to another lockdown, you can still service and expand your customer base and sustain the business. Even in the absence of face-to-face interactions till God knows when.
Speaking of a reliable remote team, Remote Staff has been helping AU businesses like yours scale faster and more sustainably with the help of skilled remote staff from the Philippines for over 14 years. We have also refined our processes while providing countless companies with talented Filipino remote talent that helped them survive (and even thrive) during a pandemic.