Updated: February 25, 2021 11:45:13 pm
Noted virologist Dr V Ravi on Thursday said that so far, there is no variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in India that has a propensity to spread faster. “The surge in Maharashtra has been triggered by super-spreader events that has had a community spillover. Testing and tracking needs to be urgently picked up,” he said while addressing a webinar on Thursday.
Dr V Ravi, who is a former professor of neurovirology at NIMHANS and nodal officer for genomic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2, Karnataka, was addressing a panel discussion on coronavirus variants and vaccination on Thursday. He pointed out that in Maharashtra, there is no evidence that a new variant has led to the surge of new infections.
“There are two amino acid changes noted in spike protein of the SARS-CoV2 virus. This has been seen in other places apart from Maharashtra. The surge has been triggered by super-spreading events,” he said at the panel discussion organised online by Neuberg Diagnostics,
On Thursday, Maharashtra reported 8,702 new cases and 56 deaths due to Covid-19. Overall, 21.29 lakh persons have been infected with Covid-19 in the state; 3.05 lakh are in home quarantine while 2,521 are in institutional quarantine, according to state Health Department officials.
Mumbai circle, at 1,976 new infections, and Pune circle (Pune, Satara, Solapur districts; 1,734 cases) are showing the highest rise in cases.
According to state data, the number of new infections is 779 in Pune Municipal Corporation areas and 1,145 in BMC areas. Nagpur Circle also has reported 1,458 new cases, with 864 new infections in Nagpur Municipal Corporation area.
Referring to the surge in cases at Kerala, Dr Ravi said, “For any respiratory pandemic, there will be a second wave… not to the extent of the first but we need to be constantly alert. However, testing nosedived. There is a need to chase every symptomatic person and get a minimum of 10 contacts of a Covid-positive patient tested.”
Dr V Ramasubramanian, infectious diseases specialist at Apollo Hospital, and Dr Saranya Narayan, chief microbiologist of Neuberg Diagnostics, participated in the webinar. Dr Ramasubramanian said that there was a surge in cases in several states but hopefully it will fizzle out in a short time.
“However, we can’t be complacent and need to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour (masking – social distancing),” he said.
Dr Ramasubramanian also urged the need to open up schools. “Adults want to protect children but there has been psychological damage among children. We need to set standards and protocols to minimise the risk on how to open schools,” he stressed.
All the experts on the panel strongly recommended vaccination, especially for those with co-morbidities. Misinformation related to vaccines and vaccinations is among the primary reasons behind the reluctance among a section of healthcare workers, said experts.
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