Cases of Delta Plus COVID-19 variant rise to around 40 in India

The number of cases of the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant in India rose to about 40, officials said Wednesday.

The Delta Plus strain, which has been initially tagged as a Variant of Interest, was later declared as Variant of Concern (VOC) by the government.

On Tuesday the number of Delta Plus variant cases in India was 22 and the infections were found in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra, Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala, and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh.

“As of now among the samples sequenced (over 45,000) in India, this variant has been observed sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh, with around 40 cases identified so far and no significant increase in prevalence,” said a statement issued by the government.

On Tuesday the federal government sent a warning to Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh on Delta Plus cases found there. The states were urged to launch immediate measures including preventing crowds and gatherings, as well as initiating widespread testing, prompt tracing and vaccination on priority.

Delta Plus variant cases are being reported at a time when India is reporting a lower number of daily cases and local governments in Indian states are lifting COVID-19 restrictions.

The Delta Plus variant is a mutant version of the Delta strain first detected in India. It is considered highly infectious and fast-spreading.

Experts in Maharashtra feared the new variant could potentially trigger a third wave of outbreak, reports said.