At least three cases of SARS-CoV-2 Delta-plus variant have been detected in samples collected from two Kerala districts, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta, officials said on Monday. Pathanamthitta District Collector Dr Narasimhugari TL Reddy said that a four-year-old boy from Kadapra panchayat in the district was found infected with the new Delta-plus variant. The new variant was discovered in a genetic study of the boy's samples conducted at CSIR-IGIB (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi). Authorities have taken stringent measures in the affected areas of two districts to prevent its spread, officials said.
The four-year-old has now tested negative for the coronavirus. According to the Pathanamthitta district administration, the local body ward where the child is from, is now a large community cluster. The test positivity rate (percentage of positive cases in the total number of tests conducted) is 18.42% in the ward.
Meanwhile, in Palakkad, the variants were detected in two women in their 50s. Both of them were infected in April-May and have now tested negative, Palakkad District Medical Officer Dr KP Reetha said. Those in the primary contact list of the two women, who were infected, have also tested to be negative. However, Palakkad District Collector Mrunmai Joshi has stated that more tests will be conducted in the region.
Last week, member (Health), NITI Aayog, Dr VK Paul had reminded the public that the newly detected Delta Plus Variant is not yet classified as a Variant of Concern. "The present status is that yes, a new variant has been found. This is as of now a Variant of Interest (VoI), not as yet classified a Variant of Concern (VoC). VoC is one in which we have understood that there are adverse consequences to humanity, which could be due to increased transmissibility or virulence. We do not know at this moment this about the Delta Plus variant," Dr Paul had stated.
He has said the way forward is to watch for its potential presence in the country and take an appropriate public health response.