China, the first country to report the emergence of the COVID-19 disease in 2019, is now grappling with a resurgence of infections due to an outbreak of the Delta variant.
According to reports, while the highly transmissible variant has affected 21 provinces and cities including Beijing, the government has imposed certain restrictions on people travelling from the northeastern city of Dalian where the infections have seen a faster growth than anywhere else in the country in the past week.
Between October 17 and November 14 alone the mainland has logged 1,308 domestically transmitted infections of the Delta variant. This is higher than the 1,280 cases reported during the summer outbreak of Delta variant cases.
The government, which has a zero-tolerance policy towards the virus, is implementing strict measures to break the chain and prevent the variant from spreading further.
Even though measures including restrictions like closure of cultural places, public transport and tourist spots; contact tracing, multiple rounds of testing of people in risk zones has helped authorities in some provinces to control a further rise in cases, infections have remained high in Dalian.
Dalian, a city of 7.5 million people, has been reporting at least 24 local cases a day, since the latest outbreak was reported on November 4. The daily cases are much more than any other Chinese cities.
Authorities of neighboring cities like Dandong, Anshan and Shenyang have said that people travelling from Dalian are being asked to undergo 14 days of quarantine before moving freely.
The Delta or B1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and suspected to be responsible for the country’s devastating second wave in April-May this year, is believed to be more than twice as contagious than the previous variants.
In its latest epidemiological update, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said that the variant has outcompeted other variant across the globe.
Genome sequencing conducted by Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Flu Data (GISAID) has found that of the 814,165 sequences uploaded in the last 60 days, 99.6 per cent were of Delta, 0.1 per cent of Gamma, <0.1 per cent of Alpha, <0.1 per cent of Beta and 0.2 per cent comprised other circulating variants.
“The current global genetic epidemiology of Sars-CoV-2 is characterised by a predominance of the Delta variant, with declining prevalence of other variants among sequences submitted to publicly available datasets or detections reported to WHO. Delta has outcompeted other variants, including VOCs, in most countries,” WHO said.
Earlier this year, the organization had said that delta was the most transmissible of all variants identified so far and was spreading fast among unvaccinated populations.