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Not just 3 Indian states, 8 have cases of Delta Plus variant: Report

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The country has over 40 cases of Delta plus variant of COVID-19, which has been named a ‘variant of concern’ by the government, across eight states, reports said.

Even though the Centre sounded alerts in the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala, sources that NDTV spoke to said the strain (B.1.617.2.1) is not confined to the three states and has also been detected in Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Jammu.

The sources said Maharashtra has 21 cases of Delta Plus variant while Madhya Pradesh has six, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have three each, Karnataka has two while Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, and Jammu have one each.

Announcing that the Delta Plus variant has been categorized as a ‘variant of concern’, the Health Ministry on Tuesday asked the three states, to take immediate measures to break the chain of the infection in clusters where it has been reported.

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According to the government statement, cases of the variant have been reported 22 samples across six districts in the country.

It has been in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri of Madhya Pradesh.

The Centre gave the directive based on a report by INSACOG, a collective of 28 laboratories working under the health ministry, which reported that genome sequencing of the variant has shown three concerns – increased transmissibility of the virus, its stronger binding in receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.

“The Centre has sent an advisory to these states about their public health response. The measures, while broadly remaining the same as have been implemented by them earlier, have become more focused and effective. We don’t want this small number to take a bigger form,” VK Paul, who heads the National Expert Group on vaccine administration said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Maharashtra says it has already begun collecting data on the travel history and vaccination status of people who have been diagnosed with the viral strain. The state has also been asked to take immediate steps to prevent crowding of public place, expedite contact tracing and vaccinate on priority.

Also read: Vaccination ‘record’: Report pokes holes at Centre’s claims

The Delta Plus variant, an mutated form of the Delta variant that is suspected to have triggered the second wave of the pandemic in India, has been reported in nine countries – India, US, UK, Portugal. Switzerland, Japan, China, Poland and Russia. Just like the Delta variant, it is highly infectious and has a mutation in the spike protein in the area of the RNA virus, which in turn is responsible for its high transmissibility.

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