New Delhi: As COVID-19 situation continues to deteriorate in India, the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) on Wednesday highlighted that the UK strain (B.1.1.7) of coronavirus is dominant in the parts of north India while the double mutant variant (B.1.617) is mostly present in Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat. The director of NCDC Sujeet Singh, however, added that the B1.1.7 lineage of SARS CoV-2 (UK variant) is declining in proportion across the country in the last month and a half. Also Read - Third Wave of Covid Inevitable, Top Scientific Advisor Warns. Key Takeaways

He said the UK strain is dominating parts of north India including Punjab (482 samples), Delhi (516), followed by Telangana (192), Maharashtra (83) and Karnataka (82). Ten top government laboratories and institutions have been sequencing the genomes of coronavirus since December, Singh said, adding 18,053 samples have been sequenced so far.

He said the information on genome sequencing has been shared with the states twice in February, four times in March and again four times in April. Singh said in the video-conferencing with states, the health ministry also informed about the current status of variants of concern and new mutants and it stressed on increased and stringent public health interventions.

‘Third COVID wave inevitable’

As the virus mutates further, the third wave of COVID infection is inevitable and it is necessary to be prepared for new waves, the government’s Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan cautioned on Wednesday. With active cases climbing to 34.87 lakh in India, the top scientific officer said it was not expected that the second wave would hit the country with such ferocity.

“Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur. We should be prepared for new waves,” he said.

Raghvan said although vaccines are efficacious against new mutations like the UK one and the double mutant, surveillance and vaccine updates are needed as the virus mutates further.

Shocks of COVID-19 tsunami being felt in southern states

On Wednesday, Kerala logged 41,953 fresh cases in the highest single-day spike so far. Speaking to the media, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the state is going through a serious situation with COVID spreading rapidly and hence the situation calls for imposing more stringent restrictions.

Karnataka too recorded the highest ever single-day count for the state by recording over 50,000 new coronavirus cases and nearly 350 deaths in the last 24 hours. Out of the 50, 112 fresh COVID cases, total 23,106 cases were reported from the state’s capital Bengaluru alone.

In Tamil Nadu, the number of COVID-19 cases on Wednesday surged further to 23,310 with 167 deaths across the state. With the deaths – 73 at private hospitals and 94 in government-run ones, the fatalities rose to 14,779 so far.

(With agency inputs)