Experts call for genome tests amid Covid-19 spike in Kerala, Maharashtra

New Delhi: Top sources in the Union Home Ministry has said that 800 to 900 coronavirus samples from Maharashtra and Kerala have been collected and sent to genome sequencing in the last month. Maharashtra and Kerala have seen an increase in the number of Covid-19 cases recently.

Genome sequencing is a testing process to understand the complete genetics of an organism. The samples have also been collected from Punjab and Bengaluru.

The Union Health Ministry said that within three to four days, it will be clear whether the new variants of coronavirus have a role to play in the re-emergence of Covid-19 cases in these parts of the country.

Genome sequencing of 6000 samples has been done so far within the country.

The cause for a sudden increase in the Covid-19 cases has not been identified yet.

The monitoring is being done on “micro-level” in Maharashtra and Kerala in order to find out the cause for the sudden increase in the Covid-19 cases. The investigation team is also finding out whether or not the Covid clusters are being formed in different parts of the country.

India’s genome sequencing results are not negligible which needs to be changed in the upcoming weeks.

“The country has set up ten surveillance sites or labs for genomic sequencing and certainly the progress has not been up to the mark. We were expected to sequence 5 per cent of the all the positive samples on a daily basis… There are two things – one is known mutants that have come from other countries into India. The other equally important aspect is whether any mutants are arising within the country,” Dr NK Arora, head of the operations research group of the Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) Covid taskforce, told NDTV.

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The British variant of the COVID-19 virus has been found in 187 people in India.

Brazil and South Africa were the first to detect the new strains. The South African strain of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in four people in India while Brazil coronavirus variant has been found in one person in India till now.

The action plan has been provided to Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Andra Pradesh and Chandigarh after seeing a sudden rise in the Covid-19 cases. Regular monitoring on the new strains has been asked by the center.

Dr Shekhar Mande, Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), told NDTV, “Five percent is the target that we wish to achieve (for genome sequencing). Right now, preparations are on war-footing to get that five percent going.”

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