Surge in Covid cases: States, UTs asked to submit 'larger number' of samples for whole genome sequencing

The direction was issued during Friday's meeting by the INSACOG which reviewed the COVID-19 data to check the possibility of any new emerging variant or sub-variant.

Published: 18th June 2022 11:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th June 2022 11:52 PM   |  A+A-

COVID-19. Coronavirus, Delhi COVID

Representational Image. (Photo | PTI)


NEW DELHI: States and Union territories have been asked to submit "larger number" of samples for whole genome sequencing from districts and areas which have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases over a period of seven days, official sources said on Saturday.

The direction was issued during Friday's meeting by the INSACOG which reviewed the COVID-19 data to check the possibility of any new emerging variant or sub-variant and ascertain the reasons behind the breakthrough infections.

"The idea behind asking states and Union territories to send larger number of samples is to keep a closer watch over the current circulating sublineagues of Omicron and its correlation to the current epidemiological picture," an official said.

"Also, we want to see if we are missing out any important clues regarding newer sub variants during routine sequencing through the sentinel surveillance," the official added.

As on date, 10 states and Union territories -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat have over 1,000 cases.

"The last review meeting that there is no variant of concern in the country as of now. India now has BA.4 and BA.5 in addition to BA.2 which have slightly higher transmissibility as compared to other Omicron sub lineages," the official said.

The INSACOG is a joint initiative of the Department of Biotechnology under the ministries of science and technology, and health to carry out genome sequencing of the virus to understand how it spreads and evolves.

Thirty-two districts in India including 11 from Kerala and five from Maharashtra are reporting a weekly Covid positivity rate of more than 10 per cent while in 35 districts including 9 from Delhi, the weekly positivity is between 5 and 10 per cent, sources said.

India logged a single day rise of 13,216 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 4,32,83,793, while the active cases have increased to 68,108, according to health ministry data updated on Saturday morning.

The death toll has climbed to 5,24,840 with 23 new fatalities.

According to health experts although there is a rise in cases, there is no associated increase in hospitalisation or deaths.

Also, the increase is limited to limited to a few districts.

The complacency among people towards following Covid-appropriate behaviour in addition to people not being enthusiastic about taking precaution doses possibly has increased the pool of susceptible population.

In addition, there is an increased mobility due to summer holidays, easing of travel restrictions - both nationally and internationally - and full-fledged opening up of economic activities, because of which there is spread of infection among vulnerable individuals.

Amid an uptick in coronavirus cases, Delhi has ramped up genome sequencing of samples to detect any new variant, officials said on Saturday.

On Friday, Delhi logged 1,797 COVID-19 infections in a single day, highest in nearly four months, along with one fatality while the positivity rate rose to 8.18 per cent, according to data shared by the city health department here.

The state-run ILBS, which has a genome sequencing lab, has the capacity to analyze 350 samples in four to five days, said a doctor at the facility.

Sources said that from the end of 2021 till June 5, the ILBS has tested 5000 to 6000 samples and most of them have tested positive for Omicron.

Samples with CT value less than 25 can only be tested, they said.

"We have detected BA.1 and BA.2 and its sublineages till now while we have not found any new variants. It has been reported that a new variant has been found in Maharashtra. The results of some of the samples will come next week," said a source.

Officials said that the Delhi government is holding day to day meetings to take stock of the situation vis-a-vis the coronavirus situation.

The samples being sent to NCDC, LNJP and ILBS for genome sequencing have also been increased but those with CT value less than 25 can only be sequenced.

On Monday, Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena had directed officials to ensure genome sequencing of COVID-19 samples in Delhi to “proactively” detect the prevalence of any new variant amid an uptick in coronavirus cases in the city.

Amid a spike in daily cases, the positivity rate too climbed from 1.92 per cent registered on June 7 to 7.01 per cent on June 15, which further increased to 8.18 per cent on June 17, according to official figures.

The number of COVID-19 cases has registered a steady rise in the last 10 days, as the daily tally mounted to over 1,300 on June 15 from 247 on June 6, totalling 7,175 cases in this period, according to the official data.


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