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Delhi starts mandatory genome sequencing

All positive samples to be tested to check Omicron’s community spread, minister assures labs have enough capacity

Published: 23rd December 2021 08:09 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd December 2021 08:09 AM   |  A+A-

Omicron.

Image for representation (File photo | AP)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The testing is being ramped up amid rising trend of Covid-19 cases, including that of the new Omicron variant. As the number of fresh cases recorded a six-month high of 125, the number of tests done was also increased to 63,313 on Wednesday, December 22, 2021.

Genome sequencing of samples of all Covid-infected people in Delhi also began on Wednesday, December 22, 2021, to ascertain if the new Omicron variant has spread in the community, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said. The city is recording around 100-125 cases a day, while it has the capacity of genome sequencing of 400-500 samples daily.

“Government-run labs at the Lok Nayak Hospital and the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences can sequence 100 samples each day. Two Centre-run labs can sequence 200-300 samples a day. So, 400-500 samples can be analysed in a day,” Jain said.

According to the health department, the number of Covid cases reported in the city so far has now gone up to 14,42,515. Of these, over 14.16 lakh have recuperated. The overall fatality count stands at 25,102.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had on Monday said all samples that test positive for Covid-19 will now be sent for genome sequencing. While no Covid death was reported on Wednesday, the case positivity rate was 0.20 per cent, showed the data shared by the Delhi health department.

Experts have been warning about strictly following the Covid SOP in the wake of the threat from Omicron, which is said to be thrice as transmissible as the Delta variant that wreaked havoc in India earlier this year. “As observed, people across the city have dropped their guard and stopped wearing masks and following safety rules,” said Dr Suresh Kumar, medical director of Lok Nayak hospital.

He said it is important for people to follow protocols such as wearing masks, maintaining social distance and avoid crowded places in view of the looming third wave. Though Omicron is a mild variant, it spreads faster than Delta, reiterated the director of the hospital.

The Chief Minister had also said that home isolation system will be strengthened since experts had said Omicron only causes mild symptoms.The government would arrange 100 beds per ward on a two-week notice, which would take the total bed capacity in Delhi to over 64,000, according to an official statement.



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