UPDATED: March 27, 2021 7:27 PM IST
The number of new Covid-19 cases in Agra has seen a spike of late and what may worsen the situation is detection of a new variant of the virus of unknown origin. Experts say this strain can transmit much faster.
On Friday, Agra recorded 14 new Covid-19 cases. Of these, four cases were due to foreign variants of the virus. Experts say three of these cases had contracted the South African variant of the virus causing Covid-19. Origin of the variant in the fourth case remains unknown.
Speaking to IndiaToday.in, a senior health department officer said the new unknown strain is “very virulent” and is being subjected to intensive tests.
Dr Aarti Agarwal, head of the microbiology department at the city-based SN Medical College, said seven samples have been taken from patients aged 7 years to 60 years. These samples have been sent to King George Medical University in Lucknow.
These samples were collected after cases started rising in Agra recently.
Of these seven cases, three people, including a 12-year-old, were infected with the South African variant of the virus designated as N/501Y-E484K.
Another patient was found carrying a new strain of the virus and it is currently being studied. Information of detection of this new strain has been sent to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Reports of the remaining three samples are pending with the King George Medical University.
Dr Agarwal said since March 2020, the only strain of Covid-19 virus found in Agra was the Wuhan strain. The local authorities had established a treatment protocol for it.
The first case of the South African variant in Agra was detected in January. This strain is said to be twice more virulent than the Indian or Wuhan strain. The treatment protocol for this virus strain is the same.
However, detection of the new unknown strain is being seen as a cause of concern. Experts say this is a “deceptive” virus strain that can change its spike proteins.
Studies are currently being conducted on this strain to better understand its virulence and effectiveness of vaccines on it.
Meanwhile, in Mathura too, a 50-year-old woman in Kamai village of Barsana was found to be infected with the South African strain of the virus.
The woman had recently returned from Goverdhan Parikrama and had stayed in a dharamshala, where she is suspected to have come in contact with a foreign devotee who infected her.