Andhra Pradesh government on Monday imposed a 14-day partial lockdown amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks. On Monday, the state recorded over 18,000 new cases and 83 deaths.
Most recently, a new variant was discovered in Visakhapatnam and some other parts of the state. The news strain is known as AP strain and is said to be at least 15 times more dangerous than the previous ones.
Experts also say that the new strain might be stronger than the B 1.617, which is also known as the double mutant strain, and the B1.618 strain. Some experts suspect that the new variant could be the N440K strain discovered by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB). However, it is too early to say, reported The Hindu
According to District Collector V. Vinay Chand, the strain in circulation in Visakhapatnam is quite different from what they saw last year during the first wave of the pandemic.
According to the District COVID Special Officer and Principal of Andhra Medical College PV Sudhakar, the new variant has a shorter incubation period, and the progress of the disease is much rapid.
In the earlier cases, a patient affected with the virus would take at least a week to reach the stage where they need oxygen support. "But in the present context, patients are reaching the critical condition within three or four days. And that is why there is heavy pressure on beds with oxygen or ICU beds," he said.
Experts also point out that unlike during the first wave, a shorter exposure is enough to acquire the virus, which enables an infected person to infect four to five persons within a shorter contact span.
"Most essentially, none is spared, as we have observed that it is affecting the younger population in a big way, including those who are fitness freaks and have high immunity levels. It is also observed that cytokine storm is occurring faster, and some are responding to treatment, and some are not," said Dr Sudhakar.
According to the experts, the bottom line is — this variant is highly unpredictable. The best way to keep it at bay is to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.
Always wear two masks while going out, keeping away from gatherings, sanitise hands regularly, and staying home as far as possible, according to Hema Prakash, a senior microbiologist from GITAM Institute of Medical Sciences and Research.
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