California keeps eye on coronavirus variants as it reopens

RITU JHA

California has now eliminated Covid-19 restrictions but the state’s department of public health is closely tracking the coronavirus variants.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on June 14 upgraded the delta variant (B.1.617.2) to a Variant of Concern,” a spokesperson for the department told indica News. “Starting this week, the CDPH will report these sub-lineages individually to help monitor the situation in California.”

The spokesperson said: “The combined kappa (B.1.617.1), delta (B.1.617.2) and B.1.617.3 variants accounted for 1.4 percent of specimens sequenced between March-May 2021.”

The spokesperson added: “While there has been an increase in B.1.617 variants, they represent a small percentage of sequenced specimens. The CDPH will be monitoring trends in these and all variants closely. As we move beyond the blueprint, CDPH, along with local health jurisdictions (LHJs) throughout the state, will continue to conduct equity-focused monitoring and surveillance that includes strategies for early detection of increased cases, including variants, as well as monitoring of hospital admissions. CDPH and LHJs will adjust disease control strategies as needed based on data collected through those efforts.”

The World Health Organization classified the delta variant, first identified in India, as a variant of concern on May 10. Since then more mutations have been observed.

The California Department of Public Health spokesperson said: “CDPH continues to urge all Californians to protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following prevention measures. Get vaccinated, it’s your turn now! Californians age 12+ are eligible to make appointments or go to a walk-in site for vaccination. Keep gatherings small and outdoors, and follow state and local public health guidance. Follow the latest face covering guidance. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.”