After tearing through India for 9 months, Delta Variant finally confirmed in Sikkim

Sagar Chettri

Gangtok, 19 Jul:

The Delta Variant of SARS CoV-2 which was first detected in India in October 2020, and which is currently the dominant variant causing Covid infections in at least 104 countries the world over, was finally confirmed in Sikkim today with the Health Minister Dr MK Sharma and Director General and Secretary, Health Department, Dr Pempa T Bhutia, holding a joint press conference to announce that genome sequencing of samples sent from Sikkim have confirmed the Delta Variant in Sikkim.

Dr Bhutia clarified that this is not Delta-Plus, the further mutation of the Delta Variant that has health professionals worried around the world at present.

While the announcement has sent social media circles in a tizzy, doctors on the frontlines are not surprised. Some government doctors, while speaking to SummitTimes on obvious conditions of anonymity, shared that they had diagnosed this a while back even if lab-confirmation was coming only now.

In fact, they remain convinced that the second wave, which has been in Sikkim since end-April, was primarily driven by the Delta Variant, a phenomenon which has been seen around the country.

Meanwhile, addressing a media briefing today, the Health Minister informed that 97 of the 98 randomly selected Covid-positive samples returned positive for the Delta Variant after genome sequencing at the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics in Kalyani, West Bengal.

The samples were sent for genome sequencing on 23 June and the results arrived today.

He explained that the samples were sent for genome sequencing after increased infection was noticed in the State even after the lockdown and other restrictions on movement of people.

“We are concerned about the delta variant of COVID-19 as it is more severe than other variants and highly transmissible,” he said.

He mentioned that the delta variant can even escape detection in RT-PCR screening in some cases.

He also stated that there will not be a separate protocol to deal with the Delta Variant, but the Government will ramp up testing and tracing.

Speaking on the present situation, the Minister mentioned that the positivity rate of COVID-19 so far in July is 18.6% with 0.59% case fatality ratio.

While responding to media queries, Dr Sharma mentioned that although random samples were sent for genome sequencing, the department has the full details and will contact all persons whose samples tested positive for the delta variant for necessary observation.

Dr Bhutia in turn mentioned that the department will soon start a mobile testing facility between Ranipool and Gangtok.