COVID19: Contagious Delta plus variant in Cyprus

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The more contagious Delta+ variant of COVID-19 has arrived in Cyprus, as the first two cases have been detected, said the Health Ministry on Monday.

Believed to be 10%-15% more transmissible, the Delta Plus mutation, an offshoot of the Delta variant, has scientists on their toes across the globe.

The two cases were detected at the Laboratory of Biotechnology and Molecular Virology of the University of Cyprus after sequencing 279 samples from people who tested positive in September and October.

Among them were two specimens of the Delta+ mutation (AY.4.2).

Some 185 samples from the batch were also sent to the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) for sequencing and another 94 to a private lab in Cyprus.

According to the Health Ministry, the Delta COVID-19 variant was detected in all 279 samples collected.

“It emerged from the specialised tests that the Delta variant (B.1.617.2) was detected in all 279 samples,” the ministry said.

Commenting on specialised tests spotting the mutation of the Delta variant, the ministry said that it has not become widespread amongst the community.

“Though the characteristics of the Delta plus mutation show that it increases the transmissibility of the virus, their detection in Cyprus has not, at this stage, caused a serious deterioration in epidemiological and hospital indicators,” it added.

Cyprus’ health authority said it is closely monitoring the situation by sending samples for sequencing.

The ministry stressed that it aimed to identify all new variants promptly to limit their spread in the community.