Bengaluru: Even as the number of Covid-19 positive cases went up to 281 in the SDM college in Dharwad, three more clusters emerged in Karnataka — two in Bengaluru, and one in Mysuru -- as health experts debated if the outbreak is due to the Delta variant or another new variant.
Dr Pradeep Banandur, head of the epidemiology department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) and a member of Covid Technical Advisory Committee, was quoted in the media as saying that if the cluster is caused by the Delta variant, there is no reason to worry. However, if it is the new variant detected in Botswana and South Africa, it is a cause of concern, he added.
Most of the cases are breakthrough infections, raising question marks over the efficacy of the vaccines and if a new variant is bypassing the immune system.
State Health Commissioner D Randeep said that cluster outbreaks are common but the number of cases coming up in each of the clusters is concerning. "Outbreaks of clusters are common. We have at least seven such clusters now. But the number of cases that are coming up in these clusters has taken us by surprise and it calls for reassessing of the Covid-19 situation in the state."
"In these cluster cases, though the majority of it has been breakthrough infections, we have seen that they are mildly symptomatic or asymptomatic. This gives more reason now to see if we have to get back to random testing. If the majority are asymptomatic then they may be silently spreading the infection and we need to catch that soon. We intend to do random testing in offices, educational institutions, crowded markets, with traders and gatherings for quickly identifying Covid positive patients and isolating them to arrest the virus spread," Randeep added.
Meanwhile, a day after news broke of two Covid clusters in educational institutions in Dharwad and Bengaluru, 12 students of Spurthy College of Nursing in Bengaluru tested positive. The other existing cluster was the one detected on Thursday at The International School Bangalore (TISB), a residential educational institution that saw 33 students and one staffer being infected.
In Dharwad’s SDM College of Medical Sciences, six patients out of the total 281 cases were found symptomatic. Sources said the Covid caseload might increase as 1,822 test results are awaited.
The Mysuru cluster is from two private nursing colleges — St Joseph’s Nursing College and Cauvery Nursing College — where 48 cases have been detected over the last few days. However, most of the cases are asymptomatic, while those with symptoms have a mild infection.
The samples have been sent for genomic sequencing. Dr KV Thrilok Chandra, Special Commissioner (Health), Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, said the genomic sequencing of previous clusters did not find any different variant from what was already circulating.
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