Hyderabad: The Telangana Health Department has decided not issue the COVID-19 bulletin on a daily basis. Instead, the bulletin will now come on a weekly basis every Monday.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Dr G Srinivasa Rao, Director of Public Health and Family Welfare, Telangana said that due to the low number of cases in the state and giving priority to the vaccination process, the department has decided to release the bulletin on a weekly basis.

"Now that the cases have come down and we are focusing on the vaccination programme, the department is busy with so many activities. I don't see much significance in releasing the COVID-19 bulletin daily now. The bulletin consists of almost 40 pages, so every day around two to three members of my team are only working on that and are unable to do any other work. Our priority should be the vaccination programme now," said Dr G Srinivasa Rao.

The department has said that in the future if the cases surge they will release the bulletin on daily basis again. "The COVID-19 positivity rate and active cases have come down drastically. If there is a surge again we will definitely release the bulletin daily. People should continue to be cautious about the spread of the virus. People are coming out to the streets without wearing masks, which is not right," the director said.

Meanwhile, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul on Tuesday during a press conference said that two variants of COVID-19 (N440K, E484) have been detected in Maharashtra, Kerala and Telangana but the surge in cases can't be linked to these variants. Recently, Karnataka has asked passengers travelling from Maharashtra to have an RT-PCR test with them while coming to the state.

The director of public health, Telangana, also said that there is no such situation in the state. "We know how to tackle the COVID-19. It is going to be a year and we have tackled it properly in our state. We have continuously performed our jobs as we are supposed to do. Every state has its own way of working. In the past year, we have learned through experience and we will continue to learn accordingly," he said.

CCMB scientists raise red flag over novel variants of the SARS-CoV-2

Scientists at the city-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) have found that few novel variants of the SARS-CoV-2 are spreading more in certain states, especially in southern India.

"We now have emerging evidence that N440K is spreading a lot more in the southern states. Closer surveillance is needed to understand its spread properly. Accurate and timely detection of the new variants that may show greater infectivity or worse clinical symptoms, including escape from immune response, will be extremely important to pre-empt disastrous consequences," said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB.
In recent research, the authors explained how different Coronavirus variants gained prevalence in India during last year. One of the variants, the A3i, had mutations that were predicted to make its spread slower.

According to scientists, the best way to control potential damage is to exercise extensive genome surveillance and take measures to prevent the spread of new variants as and when detected. While vaccines are helpful, social vaccines such as usage of masks, hand hygiene, and physical distancing are the most effective weapons we have against this pandemic.

"The success in the development and administration of vaccines is promising but other non-therapeutic prevention measures, such as masks and physical distancing will continue to be most effective in curbing further spread of the disease. Lesser spread of the virus also decreases the scope for emergence and accumulation of harmful mutants," said Dr Surabhi Srivastava, the lead author of the study.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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