As India grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, many in India are trying to put two and two together to figure out what could have gone wrong and whether anything could have been done after seeing the red flags. Twitter user Navroop Singh, who is an IPR attorney, on Tuesday took to Twitter to analyse whether the UK variant in Delhi came via ‘farmers protests’ by Punjab farmers.
Earlier in March, it was reported that over 80% of cases in Punjab were due to the UK variant of the Chinese coronavirus.
As per reports, the UK strain was first found mostly amongst the NRIs who had returned from the UK. As per reports, in March Kapurthala and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar accounted for nearly 26% of percent of all COVID cases in Punjab. Punjab’s Doaba region comprising of these two districts contributed to 25.6% of all COVID related deaths on March 19. On April 5, it accounted to about 28% of COVID deaths in Punjab.
Doaba is also known as the ‘NRI belt’. As per reports, the NRIs in this area are also a huge supporter of the Aam Aadmi Party. Ahead of 2017 state assembly elections, AAP supporters from abroad had campaigned for AAP candidates in the region. It is believed that may of the NRI relatives who visited their ancestral homes back in Doaba unknowingly brought the UK variant virus with them. Of the four districts falling under Doaba region, AAP has two MLAs.
The Doaba ‘farmers’ continued to march towards Delhi for the protests. Hence, unknowingly, from these regions, the infection seems to have reached the Singhu and other borders in Delhi where the Arhatiyas are protesting against farm laws.
Subsequently, the Central government raised concerns in April first week that the ‘farmers’ coming from Punjab to Delhi for ‘protests’ were causing the surge.
The Punjab ‘farmers’ might have unknowingly carried the infection to ‘farmer protest’ at Delhi borders and subsequently to Delhi. This can seen through the fact that the UK variant has been behind the surge in Delhi cases.
On 24 April, 2021, it was reported that the presence of highly transmissible UK variant had almost doubled in Delhi between first and last week of March. In March last week, it comprised of 50% of all samples in Delhi. In April first week, about 28% of the samples had the UK variant.
The UK variant (B1.1.7) emerged with an unusual number of mutations and affected the surge in UK since November 2021. This variant spreads more easily and quickly with 30-50% enhanced transmissibility than the original Chinese coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan.
Despite the warnings regarding severity of the infection, Arvind Kejriwal led Delhi government is not only letting the protests to continue but also providing facilities like free WiFi. It must be noted here that there have been reports that the oxygen transported to Delhi was delayed because the tankers had to take alternate route because the ‘farmers’ were blocking the borders and roads to Delhi. This led to the initial oxygen crisis in Delhi under which the national capital is still reeling under.
As stated by Singh, the UK variant has not yet been reported from Haridwar Kumbh or in West Bengal where rallies were held.
On Monday, April 26, Delhi reported 20,201 new coronavirus cases and 22,055 recoveries. Total coronavirus cases have been over 10 lakh in Delhi while active cases currently stand at 92,358.