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No foreign virus strains in Amravati, Yavatmal, Akola: Maha

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Mumbai, Feb 19 (IANS) Countering a flood of apprehension, speculations and expert opinions, the Maharashtra Health Department on Friday clarified that there is no evidence of any foreign strain of Covid-19 virus in the state’s Akola, Yavatmal and Amravati.

Discounting reports to the effect, the government said that there has been no change in the genetic makeup of the Covid-19 strains, similar to the mutant strains detected in the UK, Brazil and South Africa.

However, the government has not touched upon the possibility of detecting any other type of a fresh virus strain, genetically different from the currently known mutants globally, as apprehended in some quarters.

The Health Department said that four samples each from the three districts and 12 from Pune were tested at the BJ Medical College, Pune, in which no genetic mutations are found.

While further investigations are underway, the government has sent more samples from Akola, Amravati and Yavatmal to the NIV, and the NICS for genetic tests, the reports of which are expected next week.

The government has also said that efforts are underway to determine the causes behind the recent spike in cases in some parts of the state, especially the aforementioned districts, though it is not attributed to the foreign viruses.

The Health Department’s clarification came after two leading experts contended that a new coronavirus mutant strain was reportedly detected in Amravati, Yavatmal, and Akola, all in the Vidarbha region in the eastern part of the state.

They are Maharashtra Covid Task Force Member Dr Shashank Joshi and Director of Medical Education & Research Dr T.P. Lahane, both renowned medicos.

Lahane said that new (mutant) strains were seen in samples examined from these three districts but made it clear that more tests are required to check the potential infection hazards of the new coronavirus variant.

Joshi said that while the government is fully seized of it and probing it in detail, said some regions in the state are showing large cluster infections and lower death rate.

Both the senior medical officers attributed the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in the state to laxity by the people in not adhering to protocols and SOPs, but also cautioned that “we cannot afford another lockdown”.

–IANS

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