Delta variant detected in 78 percent of samples; doctors advise to adhere to public health standards

Published On: January 12, 2022 12:01 PM NPT By: Pabitra Sunar

KATHMANDU, Jan 12: The Delta variant has been found in 78 percent of the samples that had COVID-19 infection recorded between mid-December and mid-January, according to the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL).

According to the laboratory, out of 1600 samples, 250 samples were S-gene negative. Omicron was found in all of them. The Delta variant was found in the rest of the samples. "The Delta variant was found in all but 22 percent of those who were negative in the gene sequencing.” Dr Runa Jha, director at NPHL, said, “Additional gene sequencing is underway.”

This variant is expected to spread in Nepal along with the spread of Omicron in neighboring India and other countries of the world. However, doctors involved in COVID-19 treatment say that further gene sequencing is needed to get a clear picture. “For more information, gene sequencing of the samples needs to be done,” said Dr Niraj Bam, Senior Physician and COVID-19 Coordinator at TU Teaching Hospital.

According to him, about a dozen patients have been admitted in the last 24 hours as the patient admission rate of COVID-19 was zero on December 30-31. He warned that people who have not been vaccinated, especially the elderly, can be infected with both Delta and Omicron and can develop pneumonia.

Although the Delta variant is spreading along with Omicron in Nepal, most of the population has been vaccinated and some people have already been infected because of which their bodies have developed antibodies, said Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, coordinator of Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Diseases Hospital's Research Branch. "People who come to the hospital infected have a common cold and body aches. Even with a delta, the body may not have serious symptoms due to antibodies,” he said. Pun said that the fact can be found only through additional study of gene sequencing.

Omicron’s global hospital admissions rate is said to be low and non-critical, doctors say. The Ministry of Health and Population has directed NPHL, TU Teaching Hospital, Bir Hospital, Patan Hospital, Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital to carry out gene sequencing of the coronavirus.

Physicians have advised people to adhere to public health standards as much as possible as people who have not been vaccinated and whose antibodies are weakening are at risk of infection. "In the current situation, as mixed variants are prevalent, it is advisable for everyone to wear a mask, avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two meters, and clean their hands frequently," Pun said. Doctors have pointed out that the infection has spread rapidly due to the large number of gatherings and crowded programs after the second wave of the infection subsided.

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