June 26, 2021 5:55:33 am
THE MINISTRY of Health and Family Welfare (MoH & FW) on Friday said that the Delta Plus variant — which is currently a Variant of Concern (VoC) — has been found in two Covid samples from Punjab and one from Haryana, as per the genome sequencing results from the Indian SARS-CoV2-Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).
The Union ministry has directed both states to start immediate containment measures including “preventing crowds” and “intermingling of people”.
As per data released by the Union Ministry on Friday, 48 cases of Delta Plus variant have been detected from 10 states across the country, from 45,000 samples sequenced. Maximum cases have been detected in Maharashtra (20) followed by Tamil Nadu (9), Madhya Pradesh (7), Kerala (3) and two each from Punjab and Gujarat.
As per a letter written by Rajesh Bhushan, secretary, department of health and family welfare, Government of India to Vini Mahajan, chief secretary, Punjab, it has been intimated that Delta Plus variant “has been found in Patiala and Ludhiana districts of Punjab”.
“The Public Health Response, in this case while broadly remaining the same, has to become more focused and stringent. Thus, you are requested to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on priority basis,” it said.
The letter further states that “adequate samples of positive persons are sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG promptly…”
In a similar letter written to the Haryana chief secretary, it has been intimated that Delta Plus variant “has been found in a sample from ESIC Faridabad”.
The Centre has also highlighted in the letters that the Delta Plus variant has characteristics such as increased transmissibility, stronger binding of the virus to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Delta Plus variant (AY.1) signifies Delta variant (B.1.617.2) with an additional mutation. Mutations lead to clustering of infections, increased transmissibility, increased severity of infections and improved binding of virus to lung cells.
According to MoH&FW, both Covishield and Covaxin vaccines work against SARS-CoV-2 variants including Delta (B.1.617.2) whereas for Delta Plus (AY.1), “laboratory tests to check vaccine effect are ongoing”.
“Delta Plus variant has been found very locally present in 10 states”, says the MoH&FW, adding that cluster containment, isolation and treatment of cases, quarantining contacts and ramping up vaccination should be adopted by the states.
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