Delta now islandwide
- All 25 districts affected: Health Ministry
- 20-30% in Colombo
- 68 infections identified
BY Buddhika Samaraweera
The Health Ministry has informed the public that the highly transmissible Indian B.1.617.2 Delta variant of Covid-19 has now spread to all 25 districts of the island.
Speaking at a media briefing held yesterday (26), Health Ministry Communications Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General, and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said that there could be patients infected with the virus in more or less all the districts. He added that the tests carried out thus far have revealed that 20-30% of the Covid-19 infections in the Colombo District of the Western Province are infected with the Delta variant and that it has definitely spread to other districts as well.
“Tests conducted in Sri Lanka so far have estimated that between 20% and 30% of the Covid-19 infected in Colombo are infected with the Delta variant. In other areas, it may be more or less, but it is difficult to state a definite percentage. However, it has definitely spread to other districts,” he added.
Noting that 68 Delta variant-infected patients have been identified through the PCR samples that were referred for gene sequencing, Dr. Herath noted that a larger number of infections, well above 68 in number, are in the environment.
In addition to the Colombo District, and the Jaffna and Kilinochchi Districts of the Northern Province, cases reported to be bearing the Delta variant of Covid-19 had been reported in the Galle and Matara Districts of the Southern Province too. Dr. Herath, however, recently told The Morning that there was no point in declaring the number of patients in numbers. “Then people may think that there are only that number of patients, but the reality is that one patient reported with the Delta variant means that there could be many more patients around that area,” he explained.
He also pointed out that the guidelines given by the health authorities must be followed as soon as a person is reported to be infected with this variant from a particular area.
The Delta variant of Covid-19, which is said to be 50% more transmissible than the currently spreading Alpha (UK variant – B.1.1.7) strain, was detected from a community sample for the first time in Sri Lanka on 17 June. According to Sri Jayewardenepura University Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit Director Dr. Chandima Jeewandara, the variant was first detected among five community samples obtained from the Dematagoda area in Colombo.
The Delta variant of Covid-19 has been detected in at least 111 countries and is likely to become the dominant variant globally, over the coming months, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently warned.