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Delta, UK variants found in N Bengal

According to the reports, 14 samples were found to be those of the Delta variant and three UK strains in north Bengal,” said the hospital superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik. Among the 14 Delta cases, five were found in Darjeeling, one in Kalimpong, three in Jalpaiguri and five in Alipurduar districts.

Statesman News Service | Siliguri |

North Bengal has reported its first confirmed cases of the Delta and UK variants of the novel coronavirus. Fourteen Delta strains and three UK variant cases have been found in the region, doctors said today.

The Delta variant cases have been registered in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts, while two UK variants were found in Darjeeling district and another in Jalpaiguri district. Experts and physicians had talked about the possibility of the Delta variant reaching Siliguri after neighbouring Sikkim recorded its first Delta cases recently.

“We were almost sure that many people in Siliguri or North Bengal as a whole had been affected with the delta variant during the second wave while treating patients, because of the virulence, but when Sikkim registered as many as 97 Delta cases, it was expected that Siliguri also had the mutant coronavirus strain,” said a senior physician.

The samples had been sent to the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBG) at Kalyani for tests. “The Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) had sent 43 samples to NIBG to study the character, the reports of which were given to us yesterday.

According to the reports, 14 samples were found to be those of the Delta variant and three UK strains in north Bengal,” said the hospital superintendent Dr Sanjay Mallik. Among the 14 Delta cases, five were found in Darjeeling, one in Kalimpong, three in Jalpaiguri and five in Alipurduar districts.

Sources said those samples were sent to the institute in three phases in a gap of at least 15 days. Accordingly, the last samples were sent around a month ago. The health department has asked VRDLs to send 15 Covid positive samples to the NIBG in a gap of 15 days to find out whether any new variant
has emerged.

According to experts, the highly transmissible Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, which was first identified in India, is one of the drivers of the deadly second wave. The World Health Organisation has classified the variant Delta (B.1.617.2) as well as offshoots-AY.1 and AY.2–as variants of concern. The UK variant of the B.1.1.7 lineage, first reported in Britain, moves fast and has become a dominant variant, experts said.

“Several mutations have emerged in the coronavirus spike protein that the virus uses to enter human cells. The virus constantly changes through mutation, and new variants are expected to occur. It replicates fast and turns defective forms. The Delta variant has more transmissibility and infectivity. That variant has proved to be more transmissible than its predecessors. When we came to know that Delta variant cases were found in Sikkim, we were sure that this variant was doing the rounds in Siliguri too.

There is no alternative to following Covid protocols,” said Dr Mallik, who is also associated with the department of microbiology