Increasingly recognised as the next global challenge, the Delta plus variant of coronavirus (Covid-19) has penetrated itself in India as the government said a total of 48 cases of the infectious disease have been recorded in the country. Of these 48 cases, at least 14 cases (29.1%) have been traced back to southern India in states like – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
While Tamil Nadu is the second worst-hit country in India with nine cases, it is followed by the rest of the southern states like Kerala (3), Andhra Pradesh (1) and Karnataka (1).
India has detected these cases out of 45,000 total samples sequenced so far in the country. The worst affected by Delta plus variant is Maharashtra – which has been hit badly in both the waves India has seen – and is reporting the highest number of cases.
The government, however, maintains that the country is still seeing “very limited” cases of this mutation and is not indicating an upward trend.
Other than Maharashtra, seven cases have been in Madhya Pradesh, two each in Punjab and Gujarat, and one case each in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, and Karnataka.
Moving swiftly, India’s richest state Maharashtra tightened restrictions Friday, citing fears of a “more severe third wave” as the country recorded its third death caused by a new coronavirus variant.
The announcement came days after India’s health ministry called Delta Plus a “variant of concern”, citing its increased transmissibility and ability to bind to lung cell receptors more easily.
Health experts have already said the Delta plus variant could be a concern. The variant calls for a high watch and containment of the affected zone should be done to reduce the transmission.
The variant is a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first found in India and also carries the spike protein mutation called K417N which is also found in the Beta variant first identified in South Africa.
Scientists fear that the mutation combined with other existing features of the Delta variant could make it more transmissible.
India has recorded more than 30 million infections since the pandemic began, with Maharashtra accounting for around a fifth of the total cases.