Double Mutation Of The Virus Found In Maharashtra
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While Maharashtra remains the worst-affected state in the country with COVID-19, a virus with a double mutation has been detected. Scientific institutes tasked with genome sequencing of the Covid-19 virus in the country have alerted the Centre on a virus variant with a double mutation in Maharashtra.

The institutes working on a project under the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) have alerted the Union health ministry to label the variant with the double mutation as a likely variant of concern (VOC). Sources working on the project said so far 7,000 virus samples have been sequenced, of which 200 were lifted from parts of Maharashtra, which has been hit the hardest with the fresh rise in cases.

“Of the samples from Maharashtra, about 20% have two mutations, E484Q and L452R,” said a source. The team had also pointed to a possible role of the variant virus causing the second wave of infections in the state. Officials said an epidemiological investigation being undertaken by the NCDC, will involve probing whether variants are causing the disease to spread in clusters and whether they are more infectious.

Based on the central team report, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written a letter to the Maharashtra government, stating "measures such as night curfews, weekend lockdowns, etc. have very limited impact on containing/suppressing the transmission" and urged the state to focus on strict containment strategies, strengthening surveillance and augmenting testing.

Referring to the findings of the team, Bhushan said that containment strategy needs to be re-introduced, containment zones must be better defined based on contact listing, digital mapping of cases and contacts, and should be much larger to include the area of influence of cases/ contacts. The buffer zones need to be delineated. The perimeter control needs to be strictly enforced.

For each containment zone, the Rapid Response Teams should develop an operational plan. Bhushan also stressed augmenting testing to bring the test positivity rate to less than 5 percent and strengthening surveillance by the active house to house search for active cases/contacts in containment zones. Further, passive surveillance for ILI and SARI must be enhanced through health institutions and the involvement of private practitioners.

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