Kerala on alert as Delta Plus variant detected in 3 villages
Thiruvananthapuram: Three villages in Kerala have been shut, at least for a week, after a genome sequencing study found presence of highly infectious Delta plus variant in some of the Coivd-19 patients, state health officials said. Experts have warned that the new variant is highly infectious, with strong binding to receptors of lung cells, and affects monoclonal antibodies fast.
On Tuesday, one case was reported from Pathanamthitta and two in Palakkad district.
“In Pathanamthitta, it was found in a four-year-old boy in Kadapra village, and he has tested negative now. We have cordoned off the area and all residents are undergoing RT-PCR tests. We have examined the travel history of the family and it seems mutation might have taken place locally,” said district medical officer Dr A L Sheeja on Wednesday. She added that many patients from the area were earlier infected with Delta variant and mutation might have taken place locally.
In Palakkad, the variant was detected in two women in their 50s and both of them tested negative later. Palakkad DMO KP Reetha on Wednesday said their primary contacts were tested negative and a massive testing was on in the area. District collector Mrunami Joshi said two villages -- Parali and Pariyari -- will be closed for a week and all residents will have to undergo RT-PCR tests.
Experts said as of now very little is known about the virus, which has reportedly been found in nine countries, including India. Head of the national experts’ group on vaccination V K Paul on Tuesday said that affected states were sent advisory and asked to step up vigil. He said 40 cases were detected in the county till date, with Maharashtra reporting the maximum 21 cases. According to experts, the new variant is a mutant version of B.1.617.2 strain, but there is little evidence how virulent the strain is. After some preliminary studies in Maharashtra, experts found that transmission rate of the new strain is quite high, and it reduces monoclonal antibody response.
The detection of the new variant has come at a time when Covid-19 cases have declined in the state, prompting the government to open up several sectors that were under lockdown for more than 40 days.
On Wednesday, Kerala reported 12,787 new Covid-19 cases with a test positivity rate of 10.29%. For more than a week, the state has been reporting the highest number of cases in the country. It also reported 150 deaths, taking total fatalities to 12,445, according to the state health department bulletin. Though cases are high, the state’s fatality rate is .38% against the national average of 1.33%, the bulletin added.