FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Beginning Tuesday, May 4, travel to India from the United States will be banned, as new COVID-19 infections pummel the country.
India’s new double mutant variant has also now been detected in Texas, but medical experts at Methodist Houston say they were anticipating it.
Dr. Wesley Long, the medical director of Diagnostic Microbiology there, has now seen four cases.
“Once we heard about the Indian double mutant variant and how well it was spreading in India, we knew it was just a matter of time before we would detect at least a few cases here in the Houston area,” he said.
While the new variant hasn’t been identified in North Texas yet, epidemiologist and University of North Texas Health Science Center assistant professor Diana Cervantes said its presence in Texas is no reason to panic.
“I think when people hear the word ‘double mutant’, what they hear is double extra dangerous, and that’s not really the case.”
She said a variant just means that minor changes have occurred in the virus since it first appeared, and that’s normal. She also said the circumstances in India are different from those in the U.S.
“We’re talking about a population that about 2% is vaccinated compared to about 40% in the United States, very crowded conditions, and they don’t have the same resources that we have here in United States.”
Yet medical professionals caution against complacency.
The CDC said it is closely monitoring the B.1.617 variant but has not yet designated it a variant of concern or high consequence. Dr. Long said vigilance and vaccination are the keys to conquering this latest twist.
“Please get vaccinated against COVID-19 and as soon as you can to protect yourself, your family, your friends, your loved ones and your community,” he said.