As many as 95% of Mumbaikars are adhering to coronavirus norms while the remaining 5% who are not following the curbs are causing problems to others, city civic body Mayor Kishori Pednekar said today.

Speaking to news agency ANI, the BMC Mayor said, “I think a complete lockdown should be imposed looking at the current Covid-19 situation.”

This comes as 8,839 Covid-19 cases were reported in Mumbai on Friday. Meanwhile, as many as 63,729 new Covid-19 cases and 398 deaths were reported in Maharashtra in a span of 24 hours, taking the total active cases in the state to 6,38,034.

India has a double mutant virus variant

As the country’s daily tally of Covid-19 infections surged by a record 200,000-plus cases for three consecutive days, public health experts worry that a new — possibly more virulent — coronavirus variant could be racing through the crowded nation of more than 1.3 billion people.

The new variant, which has a so-called double mutation, is thought to be fueling India’s deadlier new wave of infections that has made it the world’s second worst-hit country, surpassing Brazil, and has already begun to overwhelm its hospitals and crematoriums. The Asian nation has reported more than 14.5 million Covid cases so far and more than 175,600 fatalities.

“This is a variant of interest we are following,” Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s technical lead officer on Covid, told reporters Friday. “Having two of these mutations, which have been seen in other variants around the world, are concerning,” she said, adding that there was a similarity with mutations that increase transmission as well as reduce neutralization, possibly stunting the ability of vaccines to curb them.

How did the “double mutation” variant emerge?

The new variant, called B.1.617, was initially detected in India with two mutations — the E484Q and L452R. It was first reported late last year by a scientist in India and more details were presented before the WHO on Monday, according to Van Kerkhove.

Is it causing the record surge in infections in India?

Genome sequencing indicates the variant as a possible culprit although the Indian government hasn’t confirmed it.

The average prevalence of the variant surged to as high as 52% of samples sequenced in April from almost nothing in January, according to website tracker outbreak.info, which uses data from global repository GISAID.

In some districts in Maharashtra state — home to the nation’s financial hub Mumbai and epicenter of the current wave that’s currently under lockdown-like rules — the prevalence of this variant was more than 60%, according to Anurag Agrawal, director of the state-run Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s genomics institute that’s conducting sequencing. The B.1.617 was present in samples from about 10 Indian states and while the percentage may vary, it was expected to rise as “it has two critical mutations that make it more likely to transmit and escape prior immunity,” Agrawal said.

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