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India's health ministry alerts 3 states on Delta Plus variant of COVID-19

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-06-23 09:24
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Villagers wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a primary healthcare centre in Limb village in Satara district in the western state of Maharashtra, India, March 24, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW DELHI - India's health ministry on Tuesday alerted the states of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on a new variant of COVID-19 called Delta Plus.

The ministry described Delta Plus as a Variant of Concern (VOC).

"Based on the recent findings of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), the health ministry has alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 being found in some districts in these states," the ministry said in a statement.

"Health secretary has communicated to these three states this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh," the statement added.

INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing but also for giving timely inputs on appropriate public health response measures to be adopted by states.

"INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus variant, currently a VOC has characteristics of increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response," the ministry said.

The Delta Plus variant, a mutant version of the Delta strain first detected in India, has been found in 22 cases across these three states.

Experts in Maharashtra fear the new variant could potentially trigger the third wave, reports said.

The Delta Plus is considered highly infectious and fast-spreading.

"Right now it is a variant of interest, not variant of concern," said Rajesh Bhushan, a senior health ministry official.

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