Variant of concern dominance a matter of worry for Nagaland
Kohima, July 3 (EMN): In the wake of different Covid-19 strains classified as “variant of concern” being detected in the state, Joint Director and Nodal Officer of Biosafety Level (BSL) Labs/ WGS, Dr. V Khamo has cautioned the people to be more responsible and to contain the virus.
While interacting with journalists on Saturday, Khamo informed that 98 samples were sent from Nagaland to NIBG, Kalyani in West Bengal for genome sequencing, 96 samples were detected to be of different variants while the remaining two were not variants of interest.
She shared that 58 samples were from Kohima district, 18 samples from Dimapur, 13 from Tuensang, eight from Mon, and one from Kiphire.
She added that all the samples from Tuensang, Mon and Kiphire were of the Delta variant (first identified in India), while 55 samples from Kohima were of the Delta variant, one Alpha variant (first found in the UK) and one Kappa variant (first identified in India). As for Dimapur, 17 out of 18 samples were of the Delta variant and one was of the Kappa variant.
The official maintained that they have been trying to send samples not only for Delta to find out all type of variants present in the state.
“When we look at the transmissibility of this virus, we are looking at a variant of concern or a variant of interest,” she said.
“When you look at the virus, especially those variants of interest, they are of interest but the transmissibility and mutation is very important, so that becomes a variant of concerned,” she said, adding that Delta is a variant of concern.
She maintained that the state managed to send the highest number of samples compared to other neighbouring states, while Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur hardly sent four at a time or even fewer.
The doctor pointed out that the variants — Delta, Alpha, Gamma and Kappa — were again classified on its transmissibility. Delta variant is 28%, Alpha is 29% with 24-34% transmissibility while Gamma is higher with 33% having 33-51% and Kappa has 58% with 28-89% transmissibility.
“The Delta variant is now the most potent with 78-121% of transmission, and so when you look at it, our state has got the Delta variant and it is almost 100% transmissible,” added the officer.
“Now, we have to buckle up; we have to really tighten up our seat belts; we have to make quick decisions on how to contain this virus,” Khamo, cautioned.
Dangers and containment
The doctor stated that ‘unless you contain the virus, this virus will mutate again’. Containment is the most important thing, she added.
Asserting the containment measures, she observed that there is lapse in the restriction for entry of people into the state, and in order to stop and minimise the cases, isolation and quarantine is necessary. ‘At the same time, most importantly, to upscale the testing facility to detect and contain the same,’ she said.
She also stressed on the importance of creating awareness among the public as Delta variant is being detected and warned that if caution is not taken, it might mutate into another dangerous variant.
‘Public is taking it very likely,’ she added.
Control this potent virus
Meanwhile, the official shared that Covishield and Covaxin are able to contain the Delta variant and urged the people of the state to get vaccinated at the earliest.
She observed that people were becoming ‘so restless and don’t want to stay at home, nor be in quarantine’.
She said containment is the most effective way to control the virus, and when the virus is contracted, it should only end up in an individual and not spread to the next person as it thrives and replicates.
The official said that every individual should understand that the virus is ‘potent’ and one needs to control it and not let it jump into another person.
She maintained that unlike last time, ‘this time (second wave) is really bad with fast transmission and stronger’. In this regard, she said people need to understand the behaviour of the virus and take necessary precaution, have self control and contain the virus.
Testing should be free
Pointing out the need for upscalling testing, the official asserted that it should be free as people like daily wage earners cannot afford to get the whole family tested considering the cost.
She added that testing in many places in the state was free and exuded hope that people would come forward.
Informing that more samples would be sent for genome sequencing, she said laboratory keep a limit for each state for referral. She added that 15 samples each from each district will be sent soon and the preparation was in progress.
She said getting the results take time even if samples are sent, pointing out that the results of samples that were sent on June 10 came only on July 1. “It is beyond our control,” she stated.
The official also said that sending samples to the laboratory takes time as there is no courier available within the state to ship out the samples. They have to connect with couriers in Guwahati, which brings dry-ice to transport from the state by road (consuming around 16 hours) and ship through air from Guwahati to Kolkata and to Kalyani.
She added that the cost of shipment is also high, which is close to INR 50,000.
Further, she observed that even if the state imposes a lockdown, ‘it is not improving the situation’. In this regard, she said the public should be sensitised and awareness should be created among the citizens that ‘we are dealing with a wild virus that can go anyway’ and at the same time ramp up the vaccination.