J&K Government on Thursday said that no new variant of concern was circulating in J&K and the case rise of Covid-19 over the past week could be attributed to the large gatherings during the wedding season in Kashmir. Further rise, it said, could be expected in coming weeks due to the ongoing festival season.
The positive percentage of samples in J&K has been higher over the last week of October in comparison to the positive percentage of samples tested in the first half of the previous month. The current percentage of samples found positive among the total tested ranges between 0.25 to 0.35, a significant rise from the 0.19 earlier.
A health official said that although there is a drop in the number of samples tested overall in the past two weeks, ending up in “not so escalated” case rise, the daily case tally has been around 100, above at least 20 cases in the weeks gone by. He said that J&K does not have a real time Genome Sequencing mechanism in place and the reports of the circulating strains of virus are “at least a month old”.
He said that a sub-lineage of Delta Variant, AY.4.2, is emerging in at least 8 states across the country and it was seen to be faster spreading than Delta Variant which predominated the second Covid wave. “We need to be better informed in order to be better equipped to handle the situation and Genomic data is of prime significance,” he said.
However, J&K Government said there was no new variant of concern circulating in J&K. Additional Chief Secretary to J&K Government, Health and Medical Education, Vivek Bhardwaj said, “Our analysis shows that it is not a variant but the wedding season in Kashmir that can be held responsible for the case rise”
Bhardwaj said the cases were expected to rise again due to the ongoing festival season. He expressed satisfaction over the rate of hospitalisation of cases and said it was low due to “a good percentage of vaccination” across districts. “However, look at Russia and some other countries. Their experience tells us that we don’t have to let our guard down,” Bhardwaj said.
In Kashmir, district Srinagar has been the hotspot of COVID, contributing to over half of the cases reported from the UT.