SINGAPORE — No cases of the COVID-19 Delta plus variant have been detected in Singapore to date, said a senior Ministry of Health (MOH) official on Thursday (24 June).
"We have not seen this so-called Delta plus variant and at this point in time, there's insufficient information to determine whether it should be categorised as a variant of interest or variant of concern, but we will continue to monitor the situation," said MOH’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak.
For every COVID-19 case diagnosed in Singapore, "where possible", authorities here will carry out phylogenetic studies to determine the specific variant causing the infection, said Associate Professor Mak, who was replying to a reporter's question at a virtual news conference chaired by the multi-ministry COVID-19 taskforce.
Authorities here will "certainly be on the lookout" for any Delta plus variant cases in Singapore, he added.
The Delta plus variant, first identified in Europe, has been classified by India authorities as a "variant of concern".
India's health ministry has stated that studies showed that the so-called variant – or AY1 – spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells, and is potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody therapy.
The variant is related to the more contagious Delta variant – or B16172 – which was first identified in India last year and designated as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan last week said B16172 is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease. It has been detected in some 80 countries and is the driving force behind major spikes in infections globally.
In comparison, the Delta plus variant has been detected in several countries, including India, the US, Japan, Poland, Switzerland, Russia, and China.
As of 31 May, 550 – of 940 local and imported cases here involving a variant of concern – are of the Delta variant, according to authorities.
According to the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID), the world's largest database of novel coronavirus genome sequences, there are 823 cases of the Delta variant in Singapore, with the latest occurrence logged on 16 June by a team of medical researchers at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL).
The database noted that 268 cases of the variant were recorded in the past four weeks, making up 92.4 per cent of all reported COVID-19 cases in Singapore during the same period.
According to the GISAID, the first case of the Delta variant in Singapore was detected on 26 February.
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