The Union Health Ministry wrote to the chief secretaries of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Kerala to take up immediate containment measures amid the cases of Delta Plus variant were found in these three states.
In the letter, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan urged the chief secretaries to take up immediate containment measures in these districts and clusters along with preventing crowds and balancing of people, enhanced testing, prompt tracing and increase speed in vaccinating people as much as possible.
In districts of Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh, Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra, and Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala, the Delta Plus variant has been found said Bhushan.
“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.
The Delta Plus variant was observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh with around 40 cases identified so far, and added that there is no significant increase in its prevalence informed the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday. Hence appropriate public health measures and strengthening surveillance have been advised by these states.
Union Health Ministry said in a statement, “As of now among the samples sequenced (45000+) in India, this variant has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala & Madhya Pradesh, with around 40 cases identified so far and no significant increase in prevalence.”
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).
“As of 18th June, 205 sequences of AY.1 lineage was detected worldwide, with USA and UK having over half the known cases,” the Union health ministry noted.
The ministry said the role of AY.1’s role in immune escape, disease severity or increased transmissibility etc. is under continued surveillance.
“Currently the number of such Delta plus variants in India are only few but the distribution / detection in various States during past two+ months indicate that the B.1.617.2.1 (AY.1) is already present in some States and States may need to enhance their public health response by focusing on surveillance, enhanced testing, quick contact-tracing and priority vaccination in defined geographies where AY.1 has been detected,” it said.
Following the advisory, Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “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.”