Delta Plus variant: Centre asks states, UTs to implement containment measures

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National: In view of the newfound Delta Plus variant cases in various states, the Centre on Friday (June 25) directed eight states and union territories to adopt immediate containment measures including preventing crowds, ramping up COVID-19 testing and vaccination drive in districts that have reported such cases.

The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan in a letter to the governments of Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Gujarat and Haryana stressed on implementing the containment measures on a priority basis.

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Further, he asked them to send samples of people who test positive for COVID-19 to the designated laboratories of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG) so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be established, PTI reported.

“You are aware that INSACOG is a consortium of laboratories for whole genome sequencing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing but also giving timely inputs on appropriate public health response in specific geographies where variants have been found,” Bhushan said.

He added, “It has been intimated by INSACOG that the Delta Plus variant, which is currently a variant of concern (VOC), has the following characteristics — increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.”

Bhushan emphasized that public health response has to become more focused and stringent.

Asking these states to adopt containment measures, the Union Health Secretary said, “Thus, you are requested to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, (conducting) widespread testing, prompt (contact) tracing as well as (increasing) vaccine coverage on a priority basis.”

“You are also requested to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG promptly so that the clinical epidemiological correlations can be established,” Bhushan was quoted as saying by the news agency.

Earlier in the day, the Centre informed that 51 cases of the Delta Plus variant of coronavirus have been detected in 45,000 samples sequenced so far in the country.

Sujeet Singh, director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), said 22 cases of the Delta Plus variant have been found in Maharashtra, nine in Tamil Nadu, seven in Madhya Pradesh, three in Kerala, two each in Punjab and Gujarat, and one each in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and Karnataka.

Meanwhile, three deaths have occurred due to the Delta Plus variant so far, including one in Maharashtra and two in Madhya Pradesh.