The Tripura government on Friday said that at least 90% of the Covid-19 samples that it sent for genome sequencing contained the highly contagious Delta Plus variant, NDTV reported.

With this, Tripura becomes the first northeastern state to have detected the Delta Plus strain, which the World Health Organisation has identified as a “variant of concern”.

“About 151 samples were sent to a government laboratory in West Bengal,” Deep Kumar Debbarma, the state’s nodal Covid-19 officer, said at a press conference. “As many as 138 or 90% of these samples have found to contain the Delta Plus variant.” The official added that some samples also tested positive for the Delta and Alpha variants.

Debbarma said that the West Tripura district – the largest in the state – has reported the most cases (115) of the Delta Plus variant, Hindustan Times reported. Eight cases of the variant were detected in Sepahijala district, followed by five cases in Gomati, four cases in Unakoti, two cases each in South and North districts, and one case each in Khowai and Dhalai.

The official noted that the Delta Plus variant can infect the lungs at a much faster rate, and urged citizens to follow Covid-19 related guidelines.

Following the findings, the state government has announced a total weekend curfew in 13 urban local bodies, The Indian Express reported. The restrictions began from 12 pm on Saturday and will remain in force till 6 am on Monday.

Besides, the ongoing partial day curfew, which entails restricted market and office hours, and night curfew have been extended till July 17.

Till Saturday, Tripura has registered a total of 56,169 Covid-19 cases and 574 deaths. The state currently has 5,152 active cases.

Concerns over Delta Plus variant

Till June 30, India recorded a total of 56 cases of the Delta Plus variant in 12 states. On July 8, two cases of the variant were recorded in Uttar Pradesh.

In June, the Centre had classified Delta Plus as a “variant of concern”. The Union health ministry classifies a variant as one of concern as soon as there’s evidence of increased transmission.

The variant has an extra mutation in the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes Covid-19. The spike protein is the portion of the virus that enables it to penetrate human cells.

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