Omicron: K’taka awaits report of 5 samples

The Karnataka health department is awaiting the genome sequencing test results of five persons who came in contact with a doctor infected with the Omicron Covid variant.

The results are expected to arrive on Monday.

The state is also seeking the approval of the Centre to conduct genome sequencing tests in four additional labs for quicker results.

The doctor had tested positive for Covid-19 on November 22 and his sample was sent for genome sequencing two days later.

On December 2, the Central government announced that the doctor was infected with the Omicron variant, sending the Karnataka health department into jitters.

The authorities have tracked the doctor’s 13 primary and 205 secondary contacts and tested them.

His wife, daughter, two of his colleagues and another have tested positive for Covid-19 and their swab samples have been sent for genome sequencing.

All of them are being treated at a designated hospital.

The health condition of these persons, including the doctor, is normal and all of them have recovered from symptoms and are doing well.

The state government has brought in strict measures after detection of the country’s first two Omicron cases in Bengaluru.

The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has already issued a circular following the government’s instructions regarding a mandatory two-dose vaccination for entry into shopping complexes, malls, cinema halls, theatres.

The management of commercial establishments are being given the task of screening customers before entry. BBMP marshals and health officials have been directed to conduct checks without intimation.

The BBMP has also warned of slapping cases under the Disaster Management Act 2005 and other legal provisions, if there were any violations.

On the other hand, the government has decided to go aggressively on vaccination front in the state. As per the latest figures of the Union government’s Co-Win Dashboard till 7 a.m. on Monday, more than 7.33 crore vaccines have been administered.

A minimum of 30 samples are sent everyday for genome sequencing to keep a tab on the spread of the Omicron variant in the state.

Presently, only two labs in the state — National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and NIMHANS — have approval from the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) to conduct genome sequencing.

Considering the inflow of international travellers and samples collected from the community, the burden will be more on conducting Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS).

The state government has already procured equipment for four labs at Hassan, Belagavi, Mysuru and 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 cannot send samples for WGS to private labs.




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