Congestion, cough, body aches: Is it Omicron or the common cold?
The world is still learning about the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Health experts say that the symptoms are different from the Delta variant, yet quite similar to the common cold.
“My analogy for Omicron is – it’s like a snow squall, right? It’s kind of coming quickly and infecting a lot of people quickly and then it’ll pass us over,” says Dr. Raj Brahmbhatt, chief medical officer at Riverside Medical Group.
Health officials say that the hope is that Omicron leaves as quickly as it arrived. But until then, it is causing major disruptions to many holiday plans and bringing back haunting memories of the early days of the pandemic.
“People haven’t stood in line for over a year for a COVID test,” Brahmbhatt says.
He says that not only is the variant more contagious, but also the incubation period is shorter. Symptoms start faster than with Delta and the other strains. The symptoms in fully vaccinated people are very similar to the common cold.
“Congestion, cold-like symptoms, achiness, fatigue, mild cough,” Brahmbhatt says.
The only way to know if it is a cold or COVID is to get a test. But this may not be so easy, with it being harder to get an appointment for a test currently.
“If you have access to testing and will be around a lot of family and friends and having symptoms, get tested,” Brahmbhatt says. “And if you cannot, be careful. Be safe and keep that mask on… Any test is fine at this point. Any test you can get your hands on. Any test is better than no test.”
The doctor says that the best defense against the virus is vaccines and booster shots. This will help stop the spread of the virus and keep cases mild.
Health officials say that it is also flu season, so they advise all New Jersey residents to get a flu vaccine as well.