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SL keeping close eye on Delta-plus

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) has not yet commented on the Delta-plus Covid-19 variant (AY.4.2), the health authorities are keeping a close eye on the possibility of it entering the country, said Director General of Health Services (DGHS) Dr. Asela Gunawardena.

Speaking to the media yesterday (24), he said: “The Delta-plus variant has been reported in several countries, but the WHO has not yet provided us with a notification in that regard. Therefore, we see this variant as a little different from the Delta Covid-19 (B.1.617.2) variant currently prevalent in the country. However, this is under constant scrutiny.” 

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) President Dr. Padma Gunaratne told the media that the WHO has not yet commented on how the spread of the Delta-plus variant and its impact would be. However, she said there was a risk of it entering Sri Lanka.

The Delta-plus variant is said to contain an extra spike mutation that may make it easier for the virus to infect individuals. It has been found in at least 44 countries, and in 41 states of the US. Preliminary evidence has suggested that this variant could be 10-15% more transmissible than the original Delta variant. 

However, speaking to The Morning on an earlier occasion, the Health Ministry Communication Director, Public Health Services Deputy Director General (DDG), and the Disaster Preparedness and Response Division Head Dr. Hemantha Herath said that the spread of any Covid-19 variant could be controlled if people follow proper health guidelines, such as wearing facemasks properly, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands. “So far, no variants have been found that can transcend health guidelines,” he said.