Delta Plus COVID-19 variant arrives in South Korea as case counts rise

Click to play video: 'Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases'
Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases
WATCH: Rapid rise of Delta and Delta Plus COVID-19 variant cases – Jun 25, 2021

South Korea is the latest country to report cases of the Delta Plus COVID-19 variant, a sub-lineage of the Delta variant first identified in India.

On Tuesday, Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it had detected South Korea’s first two cases of the mutation, which have also been found in Britain, Portugal, India and Turkey, Reuters reported. Cases of the Delta Plus variant have been found in the United States, though it’s unclear how many, according to the Washington Post.

Delta Plus is still being studied, but some scientists say it may be more transmissible. The Delta variant is currently the dominant strain of COVID-19 across the world and makes up the majority of the recently reported cases in Canada.

Click to play video: 'What scientists know about new ‘Delta Plus’ variant of concern'
What scientists know about new ‘Delta Plus’ variant of concern

At least one Delta Plus case has been reported in Canada, according to data obtained and reported by Global News on June 23. It is unclear if any more have popped up in the country.

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In June, India declared the new coronavirus variant to be of concern, and said nearly two dozen cases had been detected in three states, Reuters reported at the time.

Read more: ‘Delta plus’: India declares new COVID-19 variant to be of concern

India’s ministry said Delta Plus showed increased transmissibility and advised states to increase testing.

In South Korea, COVID-19 cases have been rising steadily. On Tuesday, the country saw 1,725 cases — an increase of more than 500 from the day before. Total infections rose to 203,926, with 2,106 deaths to date.

The country, which is considered to be in a fourth wave, reported a new daily record of 1,895 cases last week, partly fueled by the Delta variant.

Korean health authorities have expressed concern about travel, saying people moved around 6.4 per cent more last week than compared to the week prior. That is about 34 per cent more than in early January.

Click to play video: 'Should Canadians be worried about the Delta Plus variant?'
Should Canadians be worried about the Delta Plus variant?

“The movements in those regions have been increasing for three consecutive weeks,” senior health official Lee Gi-il told a briefing. “There is fatigue from long periods of distancing, and it’s a summer vacation season.”

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About 39.3 per cent of South Korea’s 52 million population have received at least one shot as of Wednesday, while 14.2 per cent are fully vaccinated, Reuters reports.

Officials have said that COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against the Delta variant, which is considered highly transmissible. A recent CDC report suggested the variant could be as contagious as chickenpox.

“It is very clear now that (vaccinated people) can transmit the infection to others,” America’s top infectious diseases expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told Global News in an exclusive interview.

–With files from Reuters and Global News’ Redmond Shannon

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