Maharashtra identified 21 Delta Plus cases so far in the state. The Delta Plus or AY.1 variant has been detected in patients from Ratnagiri (9), Jalgaon (7), Mumbai (2), and one each from Thane, Palghar and Sindhudurg districts.
The Union Health Ministry has made it clear that the Delta Plus has three worrying characteristics — stronger binding in receptors of lung cells, increased transmissibility, and potential reduction in monoclonal antibody response.
Maharashtra recorded its first such death in Ratnagiri after an 80-year-old woman, reportedly suffering from a severe anxiety disorder, succumbed to the virus on June 25. The woman’s village, Ojharkhol in Sangameshwar taluka, had been declared a containment zone a week before. The authorities started contact tracing only after it became clear that she was suffering from the Delta Plus variant.
Curbs in place again
On 26th June, the Maharashtra Health Department issued a statement which says that the Delta Plus variant has become a variant of concern. Subsequently, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray announced curbs on restaurants and marketplaces in all districts.
Dr Pradeep Awate, head of the state epidemiology cell, says primary information is that the Delta Plus victims were not vaccinated. “We are still gathering information of the patients. Three of them are under 18 and thus not eligible for vaccination.”
As per the new restrictions in Maharashtra, all stores and shops are allowed to function only till 4 pm. Theatres, malls, and multiplexes will still remain closed, whereas restaurants will operate at 50 per cent seating capacity till 4 pm. Additionally, the state decided to consider only RT-PCR tests as criteria for level determining positivity rate. Previously, it also considered the Rapid Antigen Tests.
A target has been set for all district administrations to vaccinate at least 70 per cent of the eligible population. Moreover, the five districts where the Delta Plus variant was found will be closely monitored.