South African COVID-19 strain found in four people, Brazil variant in one person, says ICMR chief

One Brazil returnee has also tested positive for the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the first week of February as per the health ministry

FP Staff February 16, 2021 19:09:34 IST
South African COVID-19 strain found in four people, Brazil variant in one person, says ICMR chief

Representation image. PTI

Four people were detected with the South Africa variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India in January, while one tested positive for the Brazil variant strain in the first week of February, the Centre said on Tuesday.

Addressing a media briefing on the COVID-19 situation in India, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava said that the South Africa strain in India has been detected in four returnees – one from Angola, one from Tanzania and two from South Africa in January.

All travellers and contacts have been tested and quarantined.

"The ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the SA variant strain from the samples of these four individual returnees," he said.

One Brazil returnee has tested positive for the Brazil variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the first week of February. The traveller and contacts have been tested and quarantined.

He also said that the South African and Brazilian variant was different from the UK one and that experiments were underway to assess the effectiveness of vaccines on them

The health ministry also said all the rules for travellers from the UK — negative reports and RT-PCR tests for every passenger — are likely to be followed for flights from South Africa and Brazil, reports NDTV.

Meanwhile, the number of people who have tested positive for the UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 187. There have been no deaths as a result of that strain.

"We have been able to culture and isolate this strain and test the efficacy of the vaccine," he said.

A very close watch is being kept on these variants, he stressed.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said as of 16 February till 1 pm, 87,40,595 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country of which a total of 62,82,646 healthcare workers have been vaccinated.

The first dose has been given to 61,11,968 (60.5 percent healthcare workers) and the second dose have been given to 1,70,678 healthcare workers which amount to 37.5 percent of eligible vaccinations, he said.

Bhushan clarified that the eligible persons are those vaccinated on 16, 17 and 18 January as only they become eligible for the second dose.

"For others, the second dose is not due. The efficacy of vaccination must be judged on the fact that what proportion of people were due for the second dose and out of that how much population has been covered," he said.

He further said a total of 24,57,949 frontline workers have been vaccinated which is 26.3 percent.

Bhushan said 14 states and UTs have administered the first dose to more than 70 percent of registered healthcare workers which is higher than the national average of 60 percent.

These states include Rajasthan (70.09 percent), Sikkim (70.09 percent), Jharkhand (71.25 percent), Kerala (71.28 percent), UP (73.58 percent), Madhya Pradesh (75.16 percent) and Bihar (80.92 percent).

While 11 states ad UTs including Delhi (42.36 percent), Punjab (36.42 percent), Andhra Pradesh (49.09 percent) and Karnataka (49.96 percent), have administered the first dose to less than 50 percent of registered healthcare workers.

"We have asked these states to organise more sessions to increase their coverage," he said.

About the second dose, Bhushan said eight states and UTs, including Goa (100 percent), Jharkhand (68.3 percent), Assam (69.7 percent), UP (81.2 percent), Gujarat (86 percent), have administered the second COVID vaccine dose to more than 60 percent of the eligible healthcare workers.

With inputs from PTI

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