Delta Plus variant very localised, 48 cases found till now in India, says govt
The central government on Monday gave an update on the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus, saying it is present in 12 states. The update was based on the data given by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), which said that 48 cases of the variant have been identified from more than 45,000 samples collected during April, May and June.
The ICMR also said that the Delta Plus variant is very localised in the country, adding that it has been isolated and cultured at National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
This comes on a day when Union minister Jitendra Singh urged medical professionals "not to create a panic" about a possible third wave of Covid-19 infection and stressed that the basic approach should be "precaution, no panic".
The minister's remarks were in response to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria's comments who said the country has to prepare for a third wave of Covid-19 and new variants like Delta Plus.
The Delta Plus variant is a mutated form of the Delta variant of coronavirus, which was first found in India. The government has said that Delta Plus is present in 12 countries. What makes this variant a worry is the fact that it spreads more rapidly than the previous known variants. Delta Plus also has the ability to fight some vaccines and therapies being offered in different countries, and shows greater affinity towards lung tissues.
Most of the cases of Delta Plus variant have been found on three states - Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh. The Maharashtra government has tightened restrictions with effect from Monday, allowing essential shops to remain open only till 4 pm on all days.
The entire state has been put under 'level 3' restrictions, a state government notification said.
Restaurants are allowed to operate dine-in facility with 50 per cent capacity till 4 pm on weekdays and takeaways and home deliveries after that, according to the order.
Former ICMR chief Dr Raman Gangakhedkar said on Sunday that there is no need to panic due to the spread of the Delta Plus variant. He was speaking at a webinar on Covid-19, where another doctor said that ICMR data shows 70 per cent of people have developed immunity against coronavirus, and the country appears to be heading towards herd immunity.
Delta Plus has already been declared a variant of concern by the Indian government.