The COVID-19 cases are back on the rise across India, with Delhi being no exception. The national capital recorded more than 2,400 new infections on Wednesday, August 10 — the highest since February 6 — while the COVID-19 positivity rate has continually spiked over the past fortnight and currently stands at 15.41%.
Amid this rising trend, a new notice issued by the Additional District Magistrate office of South Delhi has made wearing masks in all public areas mandatory yet again. A fine of Rs 500 will be imposed on those not covering their faces in public places, although people traveling together in private vehicles will be exempt from it.
This notice has coincided with the detection of a new coronavirus sub-variant in the capital city. Named Omicron sub-variant BA 2.75, it was recently detected in a study report wherein 90 samples were sent for genome sequencing in Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital.
According to LNJP Hospital Medical Director Dr. Suresh Kumar, this BA 2.75 subvariant has a higher transmission rate. It also appears to be capable of infecting people who already possess antibodies and have been vaccinated earlier.
At present, the rate at which the BA.2.75 is spreading seems low. However, experts have warned that this could change if it picks up new immune-evading mutations in the months to come — especially considering some BA.2.75 sequences already consist of a mutation called L452R, which could strengthen the variant’s ability to reinfect people.
For the time being, however, there has been no significant change in the severity of new infections and overall hospitalization and death rates. But experts have cautioned that the frequency of infection waves must also remain low, or it could lead to more long COVID cases and general disruption caused by high levels of illness.
As for BA.2.75 remains a ‘variant of interest’ for the World Health Organisation (WHO) due to its low presence outside India. Social media users have unofficially named it ‘Centaurus,’ but the sub-variant has not been officially named just yet.