Gear up genome sequencing of positive cases to track Covid variants: Centre to states

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New Delhi, Dec 20: After China reported a surge in Covid-19 cases, the Centre on Tuesday asked all states to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive cases to track the new variant.

In a letter to all states and UTs, the Health Ministry has said, “In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network.”

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in the letter, has said that such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate the undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same.

“In this context, all states are requested to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) that are mapped to the states and UTs,” the Health Ministry has told states.

The ‘Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy in context of COVID-19’ issued by Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in June, 2022 calls for early detection, isolation, testing, and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Therefore, monitoring the trends of existing variants is of crucial importance, reads the letter.

“India with its focus on the five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour has been able to restrict the transmission of the Covid-19 virus and is having around 1200 cases on a weekly basis. The Public Health challenge of Covid-19 still persists around the world with around 35 lakh cases reported weekly,” said the health ministry.

The letter reads further that the Health Ministry commends the consistent hard work put in by all states/UTs and will continue to extend required support to all states in this regard.

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