Fear grips Tripura after Delta plus variant found in 90% samples

Tripura, July 11: Fear gripped Tripura after the deadly and highly infectious Delta plus variant of Covid-19 were confirmed in a large number of samples.

Besides imposing stringent weekend curfew across the state from Saturday noon, the administration made it mandatory for all to maintain at least six feet distance from each other on the roads and public places other than the family members.

The director, health services, Dr Radha Debbarma, said the ongoing corona curfew from Monday to Friday between 2 pm and 5 am has been extended till next week to break the chain of a new strain of Covid before it spreads. “Since it is the first in the Northeast, we are discussing the strategy to counter the situation,” she added.

The state surveillance officer of Covid, Dr Deep Debbarma, said Tripura reported a new strain – Delta plus, the deadly and highly infectious variant of Covid in genome sequencing of 90 per cent of the samples. The state government had sent 151 samples from all eight districts of the state to the accredited genome testing laboratory in West Bengal last week and the report arrived on Saturday.

As many as 115 samples of West Tripura district, eight in Sepahijala, five in Gomati, four in Unokoti, two each from North and South Tripura districts and one each in Khowai and Dhalai districts were found to carry the Delta plus variant. At least 10 samples have been found to be the plain Delta variant and another three as the Alpha variant of the virus, Dr Debbarma said.

As per the information, up to December 2020, there were no signs of any alarming strains in our state. We were thus not much worried. But when samples of January, February, and March were sent, all three kinds of strains, which included delta variant, alpha variant, and gamma variant, were found.

The distribution of the variant was such that the delta variant was present exclusively in the West district in 11 of the 19 containment areas. The rest two UK variant and South African variants were found in the other districts alongside West.

The reports indicate that Delta plus variant have now been found in the state and is predominant and what is very alarming is that, unlike delta variant which found its presence only in the West district, delta plus s present in all the districts.

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However, though the variant is present in all 8 districts, the infection rate is the highest in the West district. Over 80% of the total infection rate is in the West district, the rest in the other districts.

Together with delta plus variant, delta variants and UK variants are also present although in smaller numbers. Much is being written and discussed in the media about the delta variant as it has been termed as a variant of concern by WHO.


Why Delta Plus variant is dangerous than the previous one?

Firstly, the delta plus variant spreads faster than the other variants.

Secondly, the infection may spread to the lungs of the affected person much faster which may result in an increase in the death rate. This is especially so for people with comorbidities.

Thirdly, in the case of the previous variants where if one person in a family got infected, one or two more persons from the family might get infected too. But unlike those, the peculiarity of the delta plus variant is that, if one person gets infected, the virus gradually infects the rest of the family too.

Fourthly, the virus contains the power to destroy the protective shield provided by vaccines that we are currently taking. Although, according to tests done it has been seen that the variant cannot completely neutralise the antibody, but it definitely reduces the vaccine’s efficiency.

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The efficacy of the vaccine will be much less for the ones infected by delta plus than the ones infected by non-delta plus variants. These mutations take place only when we make way for the virus to have a higher chance of transmission which is exactly what we are doing in Tripura. There’s a lot of negligence in maintaining covid appropriate behaviour among the people.

According to statistics when there is a downward trend in all other states of the country, where there is sustained transmission. If given more chances delta plus might even upgrade to delta plus which will be even more dangerous.

Covid appropriate behaviour is, thus, needed not just outside but also inside homes. If situations worsen we will not be able to manage it thus on behalf of the health department we want you to maintain covid appropriate behaviour very simple washing hands wearing marks and using sanitisers.