The Karnataka government has already initiated action to establish genome sequencing labs in the state, and the Health Secretary has been instructed to look into the needs of procuring necessary equipment and experts for the purpose, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Tuesday.
Addressing media persons at his residence in Hubballi, he said: “All the districts have Covid testing labs. Genome sequencing needs expert systems and modern equipment. Spread of the new variant, Omicron, has necessitated sending test samples in suspect cases for Omicron, to genome sequence testing in NCBS. Arrangements would be made to get the test reports quickly.”
A minimum of 30 samples have been sent everyday for genomic sequencing to keep a tab on spreading of Omicron infection in the state. Presently, only two labs in the state, one at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and NIMHANS have approval from Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) to conduct genomic sequence tests.
Considering the inflow of international travellers and samples collected from the community, the burden will be more on conducting whole genomic sequencing (WGS). The state has announced that six WGS labs would be opened during the peak of the second wave at various medical colleges in the state.
The state government has already procured equipment for four labs at Hassan, Belagavi, Mysuru, and the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical College in Bengaluru and is awaiting the approval of INSACOG.
The equipment has already been installed and staff is also trained. Apart from this, the state is also seeking the Centre’s nod to recognise test results of private hospital labs where the facility is available. As per the present rule, the state can’t send samples for WGS to private labs.