The Centre on Monday said the Delta Plus variant of the coronavirus is "very localised" in the country and is present in 12 states.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director Prof. Balram Bhargava said that 48 cases of the variant have been identified from more than 45,000 samples collected during April, May and June.
Bhargava also said that the Delta Plus variant has been isolated and cultured at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
The variant is also present is 11 other countries, he added.
This comes on a day when Union Minister Jitendra Singh has 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".
Instead of getting tempted to make alarmist observations one could be a little more reassuring, he said at the Public Health Summit 2021 on 'Emerging Imperatives in Strengthening Public Health for India'.
At the event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry, Singh said Covid-appropriate behaviour can act as a safeguard against the third wave.
"I have a small request to medical colleagues to not create a panic about a possible third wave because the basic mantra is precaution not panic. Let us put all our might together to fight the second wave instead of talking about the third one. Medical professionals have found a good platform in the media... so instead of getting tempted to make alarmist observations we could be a little more reassuring," the minister said.
He also said that public-private partnership in healthcare has strengthened amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Singh'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.
Randeep Guleria had said, "As we now prepare for the possibility of the third wave and (the spread of) new variants like Delta Plus... we need to look ahead and see how we can strengthen our public health system focusing on lessons we have learnt from the past."
"What COVID-19 has shown us is that we need a robust healthcare system. We need to address the challenges that we have in front of us. One is under-investment in healthcare. Another is that the public healthcare system should be driven by technology and data that would help us make evidence-based decisions," he said.
The AIIMS director had stressed on creating a specialised workforce, improving the health infrastructure as well as on increasing doctor-patient and nurse-patient ratios.
"What COVID-19 has taught us is the importance of strength of a public-private partnership. We have to move out of silos. We had a vaccine (available) in less than a year (of the onset of the pandemic) but most of the vaccines that came out were not developed by industry but by academia. It happened because of the partnership between the industry and public health experts. The need for it has been felt like never before," he said.
(With PTI inputs)