Centre alerts Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on Delta Plus variant of Wuhan virus

The union health ministry has alerted and advised the state governments of Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of Wuhan virus being found in some districts in these states as part of effective management of the pandemic by sustained strengthening of multi-level health and testing infrastructure.

Based on the recent findings of INSACOG, the health secretary has communicated to these three states that this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhto collect a Pradesh.
These states have been asked to take up immediate containment measures, enhanced testing, tracking and vaccination in districts and clusters where the Delta Plus variant is found. They have also been asked to collect adequate samples of positive persons to be promptly sent to designated laboratories of INSACOG so that the clinical epidemiological correlations can be made.
INSACOG is a consortium of 28 laboratories under the ministry of health and family welfare, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for whole genome sequencing in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.  INSACOG is tasked with not just the whole genome sequencing but also for giving timely inputs on appropriate public health response measures to be adopted by states and UTs. INSACOG has informed that the Delta Plus variant, currently a Variant of Concern (VOC), has the following characteristics:
·Increased transmissibility;
·Stronger binding to receptors of lung cells; and
·Potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
The health ministry has advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh that the public health response measures, while broadly remaining the same as have been implemented by them earlier, have to become more focused and effective.  The state chief secretaries have been advised to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters (as identified by INSACOG), including preventing crowds and intermingling of people, widespread testing, prompt tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.
They have also been advised to ensure that adequate samples of positive persons are promptly sent to the designated laboratories of INSACOG so that clinical epidemiological correlations can be made for further guidance to be provided to states.