10 Feb 2021: Need to probe mutant strain's presence in Kerala, Maharashtra: Guleria
Dr. Randeep Guleria, the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, indicated that Kerala and Maharashtra could be hit by a mutant strain of coronavirus.
Evidently, the coronavirus story in both these states has taken a concerning turn, even when the number of fresh infections and daily death toll seem controlled in other parts of the nation.
Details: How bad is the outbreak in both states?
As per the Ministry of Health data for the last one week, both Kerala and Maharashtra account for nearly 71% of the fresh caseload in India.
Out of the 80,536 new infections reported, 56,932 came from Maharashtra and 39,260 (nearly 49%) from Kerala.
Reportedly, Maharashtra, the worst-hit state, now has 20,48,802 coronavirus infections. It is followed by Kerala, whose tally stands at 9,77,394.
What he said: 'Will have to investigate if mutant strain is triggering spurt'
On the situation in these states, Dr. Guleria didn't rule out the possibility of a mutant strain.
"We will have to investigate whether any mutant strain of coronavirus is under circulation in the states which is causing a spurt in the daily infection," he said.
He noted that Kerala handled the health crisis well initially but the situation worsened when curbs were lifted.
Reasons: Kerala's demography could be steering its crisis
Dr. Guleria also drew attention to other factors possibly responsible for Kerala's current situation.
"A large number of people there (Kerala) are elderly and suffer with co-morbid conditions. This fact could also be impacting the emergence of COVID-19 in the state," the renowned doctor explained.
Notably, Dr. Lalit Kant, former head (epidemiology and communicable diseases) at ICMR, also agreed with this theory.
Diseases: Nearly 25% population in Kerala is obese: Dr. Kant
Citing findings of the National Family Health Survey (NHFS), Dr. Kant pointed out that sizeable populations in both states suffer from health-related issues.
"In Kerala, up to 38% of the population was found obese while it was reported at 25% in Maharashtra," he said, adding that nearly 27% of the population in Kerala and 12% in the Western state are diabetic.