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81% new samples show UK strain in Punjab

With 81 per cent of the latest 401 samples sent for genome sequencing turning out positive for the new UK Covid variant, CM Capt Amarinder Singh today appealed to people to get themselves vaccinated.

He also urged PM Narendra Modi to widen the vaccination ambit to cover those younger than 60 years since this mutant had been found to be infecting youth more. Various studies have established that the new strain is more lethal and infectious.Expressing concern over the emerging situation, the CM stressed the need for the Centre to urgently open up the vaccination for a bigger section of the populace. The process needs to be expedited, he said, pointing to the fact that experts had found the existing Covishield vaccine to be equally effective against the UK variant — B.1.1.7. It was essential to vaccinate more and more people to break the chain of transmission, he added.Capt Amarinder also urged people to strictly adhere to all Covid safety protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. The state government, which has already announced fresh restrictions, would be forced to impose more curbs if people do not follow the Covid-appropriate behaviour, he warned.The appeal from the CM came after the state’s Covid expert committee head, Dr KK Talwar, apprised him of the developments on the new variant in the state, which has been witnessing a surge in the number of cases in the past few weeks. The state health department had sent 478 Covid-positive samples to NIB, IGIB and NCDC for genome sequencing, of which results of 90 samples were received and those showed only two samples for N440K variant.Subsequently, a team from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare visited the state to review the increase in positivity. The team was informed about the pending results of genome sequencing. Thereafter, 401 more samples, collected between January 1 and March 10, were sent to the NCDC for genome sequencing. The result of these samples was worrying as it showed presence of B.1.1.7 variant in 326 samples, Dr Talwar said.

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