Delta driving breakthrough Covid-19 cases in Kerala. Is it also mutating further?
Over 40,000 cases of ‘breakthrough’ Covid-19 infections have been reported in Kerala, health ministry sources said, adding that a newer variant may be at play in the hotspot state or Delta may be mutating further.
Breakthrough cases are Covid-19 infections in people who have been vaccinated against the virus.
A six-member central team had visited eight districts in Kerala recently to aid the administration in quelling infections. In its report, the team has warned that from August 1 to August 20, the state is likely to witness around 4.6 lakh Covid-19 cases. The unlocking of activities, approaching of the Onam festival (August 20) and reopening of tourism pose challenging scenarios and it is a cause of concern, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Director Dr Sujeet Singh, who headed the central team, had said.
Kerala accounted for more than half of the Covid-19 cases recorded in the country in the last seven days, the Centre had said on Tuesday. Singh said the southern state has recorded a high number of reinfections even after two doses of the vaccine being administered and the issue is being probed.
A new variant at play?
Most breakthrough cases have been reported from the Pathanamthitta district.
At least 14,974 people got infected with the virus after receiving the first dose and 5,042 after being administered both doses of the vaccine in Pathanamthitta (according to information shared by the district). According to the report submitted by the team, the Covid-19 positivity rate was found to be more than 10 per cent in all the eight districts and at some places, it was found to be increasing.
Over 80 per cent of the cases were of the Delta variant of the virus.
India Today quoted sources in the health ministry who suggested that the role of a new coronavirus variant also cannot be ruled out. An official, upon being asked whether the Delta variant was mutating further and may be driving the surge, did not rule out the possibility and said that it is suspected to be a new variant altogether.
The health ministry has asked the state government to conduct genome sequencing of all the suspected samples to rule out the possibility of a new variant.
Lowest R-Value to Highest in 2 months
“Contact-tracing was found to be abysmally low — 1:1.2 to 1:1.7 — and the Rt value, which was the lowest (0.8) on June 1, is continuously rising with a current Rt value of 1.2,” Singh said.
“The current Rt value of Kerala is 1.12. Going by the current trend, it is expected that for the period of August 1 to August 20, the state may witness around 4.62 lakh Covid cases,” Singh said. The team visited Kasaragod, Kannur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Alappuzha, Kollam, Pathanamthitta and Thiruvananthapuram districts in Kerala.
Gearing up for the festive season
Ahead of the festive season beginning Wednesday, the state has announced various measures even as it unlocks gradually.
No public observation of festivals or mass gatherings are permitted in the state during Onam, Muharram, Janmashtami, Ganesh Chathurthi and Durga Pooja as they have the potential to become super-spreaders, the Kerala government said in an order on Tuesday.
Besides that from August 12, amid of fears of Delta’s spread, the Kerala government has also ordered special intensified stringent lockdown restrictions in the Panchayats or urban wards where the infection spread is critical and the Weekly Infection PopulationRatio (WIPR) is above 8.