New Delhi, June 22: The Union Health Ministry on Tuesday called Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 a "Variant of Concern" as 22 cases of this coronavirus mutant were detected in India's three states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala. Maharashtra reported 16 cases of The Delta Plus variant. The variant was found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon Districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri districts of Madhya Pradesh. Delta Plus, New COVID-19 Variant, Identified; Here's What We Know So Far About Its Spread and Virulence.

On the basis of the findings of INSACOG, the Union Health Ministry has advised these three states that Public Health Response measures have to become more focused and effective. The state governments have been directed to take up immediate containment measures in the districts and clusters as identified INSACOG, including preventing crowds & intermingling of people. The Centre has asked Maharashtra, MP and Kerala to increase prompt testing tracing as well as vaccine coverage on a priority basis.

Earlier, the ministry had termed the Delta Plus variant only as a 'variant of interest'. Niti Aayog Member Dr VK Paul, on June 15, had that the variant was not a matter of concern at that point of time. Besides India, the Delta Plus variant has been found in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia. ‘Delta Plus COVID-19 Variant Is Variant of Concern’, Says Union Health Ministry; Advises Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh To Take Up Immediate Containment Measures.

Notably, the highly contagious B.1.6172 or the Delta variant of COVID-19 was first detected in India. It is now present in 80 countries across the world. The delta variant is reportedly the main reason behind the second COVID-19 wave in India. This variant has further mutated to form the Delta Plus or AY.1 variant. According to experts, the Delta Plus variant, Scaria said, was the result of a mutation in the spike protein of SARS-COV-2, which helps the coronavirus enter and infect the human cells.

(With inputs from PTI)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 22, 2021 11:01 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website