The Centre has alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the ‘Delta Plus variant of SARS-CoV-2, currently a variant of concern (VOC), which has been found in some districts of these states.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has communicated to these three states that the Delta Plus variant has been found in the genome sequenced samples received from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts in Maharashtra, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts in Kerala, and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts in Madhya Pradesh.
The Union government has alerted these states about the recent findings of INSACOG. INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole-genome sequencing in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing, but also with giving timely inputs on appropriate public health response measures to be adopted by the states and Union Territories.
INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus variant has characteristics of increased transmissibility, stronger binding to receptors of lung cells and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
The Union Health Ministry has advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh that the public health response measures, while broadly remaining the same as have been implemented by them earlier, have to become more focused and effective.
The Centre has advised the three states’ chief secretaries to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters (as identified by INSACOG), including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, carrying out widespread testing and prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.
They have also been advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are promptly sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to states.