Delta variant predominant in Bhutan

By Phurpa Wangmo

The dreaded covid-19 variant “Delta” has finally entered the country with the Health Ministry cautioning the public to be at their highest alert.

Following extensive test results, the Ministry of Health Friday announced that the most prevalent variant causing a series of outbreak in the country is due to the presence of the COVID delta variant.

From the total samples sequenced, 87% is delta variant, 10% beta and 3% alpha. The delta variant is regarded as more transmissible and is more likely to lead to hospitalizations.

“The MoH cautions the general public once again to take the basic COVID-19 precautionary measures seriously and follow all precautionary measures and existing SoPs to exercise the highest caution,” it stated.

Following the announcement most people said it was time the Bhutanese public took matters seriously before we are over burdened with rising cases. Most said the situation is becoming alarming by the day and that we have no room for errors.

And, at a time when the people are already overburdened with the looming thought of the uncertainties of receiving the second vaccine dose, the Delta variant entering the country adds all the more concern.

An editor of a weekly said genome sequencing of around 30 COVID-19 samples from Bhutan done in a lab in Bangkok show that the Delta Variant or B.1.617.2 , first detected in India, is the main dominant COVID variant in Bhutan driving the cases. It is in 87% of the samples.

“At the moment, this is the world’s most transmissible variant which leads to higher rates of hospitalization, has greater immune or vaccine escape and attacks children,” he wrote.

The news of the deadly variant being confirmed in the country saw many nitizens take to social media to voice their concerns while health officials cautioned public to be very mindful of the development.

A journalist, Sonam Tobgay, wrote: “The bewildering speed with which coronavirus has overwhelmed India’s health systems has sparked global alarm over the viral variant that emerged in the subcontinent. The new variants are more dangerous than the previous ones and these variant is driving India’s coronavirus catastrophe. The saddest part is, it crossed its border now. Be cautious and alert.”

The Prime Minister and the Health Minister also took to their social media platforms to caution people of the new developments and requested all to ever be cautious given the scary times the nation is going through.

However, there are others who believe that the scourge of the Covid-19 virus will remain and that it is time for the government to get back to normal business if the pandemic was to be overcome.

A popular social media influencer and former editor and journalist, Wangcha Sangey opined that the fatal danger to health of common people the world over is proving to be economic stress and social captivity and not covid -19.

“Even in United States the economically disadvantaged and socially stressed population sector  constitute the majority of covid victims.  Unfortunately, many third world leaders are too busy imposing covid protocols including suppression of free speech to hide economic woes and political leadership failures. These are the reasons why third world will largely remain in a sorry state of socio- economic repression and political suspicion and insecurity,” he argued.

He further argued that the covid virus is like any other disease, however, human beings are most vulnerable when put in cage and freedom of even physical movement is restricted.

Sangay further opines that the most powerful ingredient of a human will to survive is inspiration and freedom and that when both are curtailed or taken away, man is at his weakest low. His very survival is threatened because it is not in human nature to be tethered and fed like a cow and be milked. 

“Therefore, it can never be determined whether covid protocols hindered or actually fostered covid-19 spread. What may likely happen soon would be covid fear evaporating not because of vaccine jabs but because human spirit  to  survive and be free ultimately triumphs all barriers,” he said.

The delta COVID-19 variant, which was first detected in India, has now been reported in more than 80 countries, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO declared the delta variant a “variant of concern” last month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week upgraded its classification of delta from a “variant of interest” to a “variant of concern.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a new naming system for variants of Covid-19 with Greek letters to refer to variants first detected in countries like the UK, South Africa and India.

The UK variant for instance is labelled as Alpha, the South African Beta, the Indian as Delta, Peru as Lambda. The WHO said this was to simplify discussions but also to help remove stigma from the names associated to the country.

Lambda variant was initially detected in Peru in August 2020 and has since been reported in 29 nations around the world, mostly in Latin America, including Argentina and Chile.

Delta variant of Covid-19 mutates into ‘Delta Plus’ or ‘AY.1’ variant.

WHO has recently declared the Delta Plus and Lambda variants as “variant of interest”-needing to study more on them.

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