Maha daily COVID-19 cases not falling below 8,000 a cause of concern: Rajesh Tope

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Mumbai, Jun 23 (PTI) Daily COVID-19 cases not falling below the 8,000-mark in Maharashtra is a matter of concern, state Health Minister Rajesh Tope said on Wednesday even as he observed that the study of the Delta Plus variant has indicated that it could be more virulent compared to the previous mutants.

Speaking to reporters, Tope said the cases are plateaued at 7,000 to 8,000 per day in the state now compared to the peak of 65,000 infections reported in a day in the past.

“It is a matter of concern for the state as the number of fresh (daily) COVID-19 cases is not dropping below 8,000. In the last 7 to 8 days, the state has been adding around 7,000 to 8,000 new COVID-19 cases per day but the number is not going down,” he said.

Maharashtra on Wednesday reported more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases after a gap of one week, taking its tally to 59,97,587, the state Health department said.

Tope said 21 COVID-19 cases of the Delta plus variant had been found so far in seven districts in the state.

'A separate hospital ward is formed for such patients, ' he said.

“These are the index cases of Delta plus variant and its severity could be higher. The study of this variant has indicated that it could be more virulent compared to the previous mutants,” he said.

He said 100 samples each from 36 districts of Maharashtra have been taken and sent for genome sequencing. 'The total sample size is as big as 7,500,' Tope added.

A member of the Maharashtra COVID task force Dr Shashank Joshi earlier on Wednesday said enough data was not available about the new variant and the extent of its virulence.

The new Delta Plus variant has been found in the US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia.

The new Delta Plus variant has been formed due to a mutation in the Delta or B.1.617.2 variant, first identified in India and one of the drivers of the deadly second wave.

Though there is no indication yet of the severity of the disease due to the new variant, Delta Plus is resistant to the monoclonal antibody cocktail treatment for COVID-19 recently authorised in India.

Some cases of the Delta Plus variant of COVID-19 have also been found in Madhya Pradesh and Kerala.

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