Around 40 cases of the Delta plus variant, classified as a variant of concern (VOC), have been detected sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday.
"As of now among the samples sequenced (45000+) in India, Delta plus variant -- AY.1 --has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with around 40 cases identified so far and no significant increase in prevalence," the ministry said in its statement, reported PTI.
The statement notes, all Delta sub-lineages are treated as a VOC (Variant of Concern), although properties of AY.1 are still being investigated. "Currently, the variant frequency of AY.1 is low in India. Cases with AY.1 have been mostly reported from nine countries of Europe, Asia and America," it said. The retrospective analysis of samples revealed the first occurrence of this lineage from a sample collected from Maharashtra (sample collection date -April 5, 2021).
After the Union Health Ministry's statement, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope has asked officials to remain alert.
"I have directed officials that the Delta Plus variant cases should be monitored closely. Information about these cases should be collected and recorded for study. We are taking 100 samples from every district," Rajesh Tope was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Meanwhile, the Union Health Ministry wrote to the chief secretaries of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala and requested them to take up immediate containment measures as cases of Delta Plus variant were found in these three states.
Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in the letter, requested the chief secretaries to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.
Bhushan said it is intimated that Delta Plus variant has been found in Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh, Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra, and Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala.
"The Public Health Response, in this case, while broadly remaining the same, has to become more focused and stringent. Thus, you are requested to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis," read the letter.
"You are requested to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG promptly so that the clinical epidemiological correlations can be made," it said.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)