No Foreign Strain of Coronavirus Found in Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara Districts, Says Maha Govt

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New strains of coronavirus found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil have not been detected in Amravati, Yavatmal and Satara districts of Maharashtra where cases have spiked recently, the state government said on Friday. In view of increase in cases in Western Maharashtra's Pune, Sarata districts and Amravati and Yavatmal in Vidarbha region, genome sequencing of coronavirus samples from these areas was carried out, the health department said.

Four samples each from Satara, Yavatmal and Amravati were tested at B J Medical College laboratory in Pune. No mutation similar to that found in new strains in the UK, South Africa or Brazil was observed, it said in a statement. Similarly, no mutation in genome was found in 12 samples form Pune district, it said.

However, some more samples from Amravati and Yavatmal have been sent for genome testing to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology and National Centre for Cell Science, it said. On Thursday, an official had said that researchers had found two new mutations in coronavirus samples from Amravati and Yavatmal districts, but no foreign strain of virus was found.

These new mutations were characterized by the virus' ability to escape neutralising antibodies in the host person's body, said Dr Rajesh Karyekarte, head of the Department of Microbiology at the state-run BJ Medical College in Pune. Dr Subhash Salunke, technical adviser to the Maharashtra government on the COVID-19 outbreak, said a virus mutation found in Amaravati seemed to be more infectious.

On Thursday, Maharashtra recorded more than 5,000 new cases after a gap of 75 days.