NEW DELHI: A genome sequencing laboratory, to identify variants of coronavirus, is likely to start at the Delhi government's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital by the first week of July, officials said on Wednesday.
A genetic sequencing machine for the laboratory has been procured from Singapore after the government issued a tender for it, they said.
Earlier this month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that two genome sequencing laboratories to identify variants of coronavirus will come up at the LNJP Hospital and at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.
Setting up of these laboratories are part of the Delhi government''s preparations to tackle a possible third wave of coronavirus, which many feel may be triggered by the Delta plus variant which has been declared as a ''variant of concern'' by the Union Health Ministry.
Around 40 cases of the Delta plus variant have been detected sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.
"We are planning to start the genome sequencing laboratory by the first week of July. We have virology and microbiology departments here so we already have the manpower. There are 10-15 ICMR projects going on at the hospital so we have the scientists here to carry out research," said Suresh Kumar, the medical director of the hospital.
Genome sequencing allows tracking of small mutations in SARS-CoV2 so that chains of transmission can be identified.
"Genome sequencing laboratories are being created so that we get to know about the coronavirus variant that comes to Delhi, whether it is an old or a new one. We can then ask experts what precautions need to be taken," Kejriwal had said while announcing the two genome sequencing labs.
The national capital reported 111 fresh coronavirus cases on Wednesday at a positivity rate of 0.15 per cent, while seven more people succumbed to the infection, according to data shared by the health department here.
The seven new fatalities pushed the death toll in the city to 24,940.
The case fatality rate stands at 1.74 per cent.
Delhi has recorded 14,33,366 coronavirus cases since the pandemic started.
As many as 14,06,629 patients have recovered so far and there were 702 recoveries in the last 24 hours, according to the bulletin.
Delhi reported 134 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday at a positivity rate of 0.
20 per cent, while eight more people died due to the infection.
The health bulletin said that 477 positive cases pertaining to previous weeks were added on the ICMR portal on Tuesday by Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and associated Safdarjung Hospital.
On Monday, Delhi had reported 89 coronavirus cases at a positivity rate of 0.
16 per cent, both lowest this year so far, while 11 more people died, according to data shared by the health department.
According to covid19India.org, a crowd-sourced initiative that collects data on COVID-19 and vaccination in India, Delhi had recorded 76 cases on April 30 last year.
Monday was also the first time since February 16 -- when 94 people were diagnosed with the disease -- that the number of new cases has dropped below the 100-mark.
On January 27, the capital had reported 96 cases.
The infection rate had reached to 36 per cent in the last week of April.
On April 20, Delhi had reported 28,395 cases, the highest in the city since the beginning of the pandemic.
On April 22 the case positivity rate was 36.2 per cent, the highest so far.
The highest number of 448 deaths linked to the pandemic was reported on May 3.
According to the latest health bulletin, 76,185 tests, including 52,940 RT-PCR tests, were conducted a day ago, while the rest were rapid antigen tests.
The number of active cases decreased to 1797 from 1918 on Tuesday, according to the bulletin.
Out of 23,640 beds in hospitals, only 1,139 are occupied.
The number of patients in home isolation slightly declined to 522 from 541 a day ago, while the number of containment zones dropped to 4340 from 4502 a day before, the bulletin added.
As many as 84,812 people were vaccinated in the last 24 hours, including 18,842 who were administered the second dose, thereby making them fully vaccinated.
According to data on CoWIN portal, 66,95,944 people have been vaccinated till now, including 16,16,638, who have received both the doses.