Scientists from the CSIR have found that there are 19 indigenous variants in India.
New Delhi: With the sharp rise of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra, with over 13,000 cases reported on Wednesday, experts did not rule out the presence of an indigenous variant in the state, and said that the variant can be determined after the genome sequencing is conducted by the government.
It must be noted that a month ago, a few scientists from CSIR had found in their study that there are 19 indigenous variants in India.
Dr Avinash Bhondwe, former President, Indian Medical Association-Maharashtra, told The Sunday Guardian, “According to me, there are three reasons for the increase in cases in Maharashtra. First, during the festival seasons such as Diwali and Ganeshotsav, people and devotees were not wearing masks and maintaining social distancing at public places, which could be the reason for the surge in Covid cases.”
“Second, everyone knows that elderly people are the most vulnerable to this disease. But in the last few months, the number of positive cases among the age group of 20 to 40 has increased exponentially. This may be because the young and middle-aged people are the working-class population, and they go out for employment or some other purpose due to which the number of cases among the age group of 20 to 40 has increased,” he said.
“Third and the most important reason, in the last few months, contact tracing has increased substantially in the state and also the number of persons contracting the disease has gone north. For example, previously if a person had got infected with the virus, one of his contacts would get infected. But now the entire family reports Covid positive,” Bhondwe told The Sunday Guardian.
He further added, “There are an umpteen number of incidents where a person in the family had tested positive for coronavirus and later, when his/her contacts were tested, the entire family had contracted the disease. So, there could be a local variant present in Maharashtra, which could be determined only after the genome sequencing of the virus is conducted.”
Dr Shashank Joshi, who is a member of the Covid Task Force in Maharashtra, told The Sunday Guardian, “As far as Maharashtra is concerned, the testing has been exponentially ramped up, due to which we are witnessing a spike in the number of cases. As many as 80% cases are asymptomatic or those with mild infection and also case fatality rate (CFR) is down to 2.5%, so the death rate is low.”
He further told The Sunday Guardian, “However, we have identified three cluster areas in the state. One, low exposure area that is Vidarbha and the Marathawada region, particularly Akola and Amaravati. There was a spike in this region because of the lack of Covid measures and protocol followed by the people during the local body elections. In this region, there could be the possibility of Covid strain, which could be determined only after the genome sequencing result is out. However, the state government has ruled out the possibility of indigenous strain in Maharashtra.” This region has more than 15% positivity rate.
“The second region is Mumbai and Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Here, the case fatality rate is very low at 0.5%. But we are facing a difficult task here. People who are asymptomatic are advised to stay home quarantined for 15 days, but the patients are not following the instruction, and this has resulted in them becoming super-spreaders or carriers of the virus,” Joshi told The Sunday Guardian, adding that the government has taken the decision to move patients from home quarantine to institutional quarantine.
Talking about the measures needed to contain the spread, he said that the government has advised to ramp up the test, enhance the contact tracing from 20 contacts to 30 and wearing two masks.
Strict isolation and prompt treatment will help to combat the surge in the cases, he said.
He said that the government is imposing strict lockdown and containment and micro-containment zones wherever the positivity rate is more than 15%.
Talking about the possibility of local strain in the state, Joshi told The Sunday Guardian, “Every virus mutates and has strains. Now, even if there is a strain, the symptoms that it is showing are mild.”