The Covid surge in Maharashtra and Punjab is cause for grave concern, the Union Health Ministry said today, tracing the expanding circle of states that are showing an upward graph as part of the emergent second wave of infection. The numbers are moving up in four other states, the ministry said -- Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The last two states and Union Territories that are raising concern are Chhattisgarh and Chandigarh, the ministry said during its regular briefing this evening.
Earlier today, the Centre had admitted that a new "double mutant variant" of the virus has been detected in 18 states. One variant has been found in Maharashtra, another in Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana.
The UK, South Africa and the Brazil strains have been found in 18 states -- 736 cases of the UK strain has been found in almost 11,000 samples.
There have been 34 cases of the South Africa strain and only one of the Brazilian strain. The ministry had said the numbers were not "sufficient to either establish a direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states".
This evening, the ministry clarified that there is no evidence yet that mutant strains are behind the fresh surge.
"Pandemic fatigue is still the main cause behind the surge," said Dr Sujeet Kumar, the director of the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), referring to the laxity that has crept in regarding safety measures like wearing of masks or social distancing.
"Mutation is a natural phenomenon, we have a very strong system there is no need to panic. When viruses replicate, mutations happen. The only way to stop mutation is to suppress the chain of transmission," said Dr VK Paul, the Chairman of National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration.
"I congratulate the Delhi government for the move of putting restrictions during festivals and urge other state governments for the same. There is still a high susceptible population in India," Dr Paul added.