Srinagar – with India reporting 51 cases of new Delta plus variant across12 states so far, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday urged authorities to prepare for the potential spread of the new mutant in the valley.
“New variant is on the move and it can sneak in anytime. We must be prepared and alert,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan.
“We must prepare in advance to deal with the variant. Advance planning and preparedness is critical to help mitigate the impact of any eventuality,” he said.
Dr Hassan said we need to ramp up genome sequencing to identify the new variant and make appropriate public health response.
“Though no case of the variant has been reported yet in the valley, we saw how few cases of Delta variant in one state engulfed the whole country in a matter of weeks and ended up in a devastating second wave,” he said.
“Delta plus variant possesses all the features of Delta variant with one additional mutation that is found in Beta variant, first detected in South Africa,” Dr Hassan said.
“The variant was first seen in Europe in March this year. It was, however, brought into public domain on June13,” he said.
The DAK President said the variant has been designated as a variant of concern.
“According to the analysis by a consortium of genome sequencing labs, the variant spreads more easily, binds more easily to human cells and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy,” he said.
“Research is under way to find out if this new variant may be able to escape the immune response,” he added.
“At the moment, it seems the symptoms of the new strain are the same as the earlier one,” Dr Nisar said.
“Apart from cough and fever, other symptoms that are reported in persons affected by the new strain include headache, sore throat, runny nose, skin rash, diarrhoea, stomachache, nausea and appetite loss.”
“The new variant spreads through the same old ways. It spreads between people through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks,” he said.
“People are advised to follow Covid appropriate behaviour and get vaccinated which remain the principal ways to avoid getting infection from the new variant,” he added.