All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, Director Dr Randeep Guleria on Friday said that the new Covid-19 variants detected in India were more infectious, reported News18. He added that both doses of the Covid-19 vaccines must be taken as there was a significant chance of contracting the infection if just one dose is taken.

“Currently, as far as variants in India is concerned, we could say that based on whatever limited data that we have, it does seem the virus has become more infectious,” Guleria said in an interview. “And that is why we are seeing this huge spike in the number of cases in such a short period of time.”

The AIIMS chief also said that the current data was not sufficient and that more information was being collated to see whether the new Covid-19 variants were more virulent. Guleria added that India’s mortality rate was still low but the healthcare system was getting strained.

When asked how people were getting infected despite not stepping outside their homes, Guleria said that it was important to understand how the coronavirus spreads. “...You may not have stepped out…I know people who said my parents never went out of the house, but they got the repair person to come in to clean the AC...” he explained. “...Because of the summer coming the AC had to be cleaned, or the maid came in and had to clean up the room or do the cooking. So you may not have gone out but the person who is asymptomatic but infectious may have come into your house and spread the infection in the home environment.”

Guleria said symptoms of even the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic were largely the same and included fever, cold, body pain, sore throat, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting with or without fever. The doctor also recommended N95 masks or use of double masks (a triple-layer surgical mask under a cloth mask) if the former was unavailable.

“But the best efficacy that has been shown in various studies is with N95 masks, which is more than 90%. Eighty-five to 90% is if you were to use a surgical mask and on top of that a cloth mask when you’re going out, and below that is wearing a cloth mask,” he told News18. “But having said that, I think not only wearing a mask is important; wearing it properly is also important.”

Guleria said that people who have tested positive 14 days ago and are asymptomatic after the tenth day or had no fever for at least three days before that, then they are completely non-infectious. This is provided they do not have any symptoms in the last 14 days.

The AIIMS chief also said that children were being infected with Covid-19 more now as educational institutions had reopened along with resumption of other activities. “There were holidays planned where the children went out for holidays, and that’s a susceptible population, which was really not infected and had no immunity, suddenly got exposed to a virus, which is very infectious. And that’s why it’s spread rapidly in the younger age group,” he said, according to News18.

Children had to be protected as they usually show mild illness as Covid-19 symptoms but may pass it on to the elderly in their homes. “So the children need to be protected not only from the point of view of them getting infected, but from the point of view of them carrying the infection to the grandparents who are most susceptible and can get severe infection,” he added.

India on Friday registered another global high of 3,32,730 coronavirus cases, pushing the infection tally in the country to 1,62,63,695 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. The country also registered its highest toll at 2,263. With this, the total number of fatalities climbed to 1,86,920.