A new ‘double mutant variant’ has been detected, according to the health ministry, amid concerns over the highest number of new infections and deaths in a single day.
India has detected a new ‘double mutant variant’ of the novel coronavirus, the health ministry said, adding to concern as the government battles with the highest number of new infections and deaths in a single day this year.
Genome sequencing and analysis of samples from the state of Maharashtra found mutations in the virus that do not correspond to previously cataloged “variants of concern” (VOCs), the ministry said in a statement Wednesday.
Maharashtra is one of the worst-affected states in India, but the ministry said it was not clear whether the new variant is causing a surge there or in other states.
“Although VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, they have not been detected in sufficient numbers to establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states,” the ministry said. in a statement, but did not elaborate.
India has already reported several cases of a variant first detected in Britain, as well as those first found in South Africa and Brazil.
275 dead in 24 hours
India reported 47,262 new infections in the previous 24-hour period on Wednesday, the highest since early November, bringing its total to 11.7 million. Only the United States and Brazil have a higher workload.
The number of COVID-19 deaths in India in the past 24 hours has risen to 275, the highest number this year, bringing the total to 160,441, according to government data.
Several states have announced a ban on large gatherings before the Hindu Holi festival this weekend.
The health ministry said states were “strongly advised” to restrict public viewing of festivals.
“Any laxity at this stage to ensure strict adherence … to contain the spread of COVID-19, may result in the loss of momentum and advantages that our country has gained so far in managing the virus,” said the ministry in a press release.
Alarmed by the outbreak, the federal government announced it was expanding its nationwide vaccination campaign to include all people over 45 and called on people to get vaccinated.
The total number of vaccinations in India ranks third in the world, behind the United States and China, but it ranks lower on a per capita basis, according to the Our World in Data website.