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Religious gatherings, election rallies among factors behind Covid-19 surge in India, says WHO

WHO said India now accounts for 95% of cases and 93% of deaths in the South-East Asia region, as well as 50% of global cases and 30% of deaths.

The World Health Organisation has said several religious and political mass gathering are among the several potential contributing factors in resurgence and acceleration in Covid-19 transmission in India, a recent assessment of the Covid-19 situation in the country revealed. Mass gatherings had increased the social mixing.

The WHO, in its Covid-19 Weekly Epidemiological Update, published Wednesday, said India now accounts for 95% of cases and 93% of deaths in the South-East Asia region, as well as 50% of global cases and 30% of deaths.

The update also said that viruses in the B.1.617 lineage were first reported in India in October 2020. The resurgence in Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country has raised questions on the potential role of B.1.617 and other variants (e.g., B.1.1.7) in circulation, the update said.

A recent risk assessment of the situation in India conducted by WHO found that resurgence and acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in India had several potential contributing factors, including increase in the proportion of cases of SARS-CoV-2 variants with potentially increased transmissibility; several religious and political mass gathering events which increased social mixing; and, under use of and reduced adherence to public health and social measures (PHSM). The exact contributions of each of these factors on increased transmission in India are not well understood, it said.

The update said that approximately 0.1% of positive samples in India have been sequenced and uploaded to GISAID to identify SARS-CoV-2 variants. GISAID enables rapid and open access to epidemic and pandemic virus data. The preliminary analyses conducted by WHO using sequences submitted to GISAID suggests that B.1.617.1 and B.1.617.2 have a substantially higher growth rate than other circulating variants in India, suggesting potential increased transmissibility compared, the update said.

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