Omicron threat: Genome reports bound in red tape, Karnataka officials out of loop

By Bosky Khanna| Express News Service | Published: 06th December 2021 05:58 AM
Representational Image. (File Photo)

BENGALURU: The Karnataka government and BBMP are waiting with bated breath for the results of the genome sequencing tests conducted on some primary contacts of the first two cases with the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus. A tussle has erupted, with Central agencies not giving information to act quickly.

The test results of the five primary and secondary contacts of the 46-year-old doctor who tested positive for the Omicron variant, were to be announced on Saturday or Sunday.

The samples of the doctor’s wife and two children were sent for genome sequencing. All the samples were sent by BBMP and health department officials to the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) for genome sequencing.

However, as NCBS is under the Central government, as per protocol, the reports are to be uploaded on the portal and shared with the Central health ministry first.

Officials of the state health department and BBMP are desperately requesting that the test results be given to them early, so they can act immediately, rather than wait for another day, and get it from the Centre in the form of an official announcement.

The genome sequencing reports are likely to be announced on Monday, after NCBS shares the results with the Central government, after which the Ministry of Health will announce the results.

“We agree to the protocols to be followed by the lab. But the Central government’s insistence on protocols to be followed is now becoming a source of worry for us. We are politely asking the lab to share the reports with us, but they are not obliging,” a source in the BBMP, who is privy to the procedures, told TNIE. 

“Central government norms have to be followed. Earlier, when Covid-19 cases were rising at a rapid pace, and the results were uploaded on the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) portal, they were shared with us beforehand so that ground preparations could be scaled up quickly. The cordial methodology had helped in creating a parallel management mechanism. In the same way, as cases with the Omicron variant are now rising in other parts of the country and there are still no restrictions on domestic travel, we need to take more precautions,” he said.

The worries of the health department and BBMP officials are not unfounded as the number of Covid-19 clusters in Karnataka as well as in Bengaluru have now risen to 75, with Bommanahalli zone having a majority of them.

It is the same zone where the first Omicron positive case was reported in the country, that of the 46-year-old doctor. It is also the zone where sealing of containment zones was resumed after it was lifted, as per Indian Medical Association guidelines.

Some of the BBMP officials feel the change of hand in the management of Covid-19 war rooms, change in officials coordinating between the health department and BBMP, is also leading to poor interaction and communication with the labs.

“Since so many transfers have happened in quick succession, officials have not been able to handle all the wings and understand the finer technical details, or build a good rapport with their counterparts in other departments coming under the central and state governments, to get reports beforehand. The government and politicians should understood all this before announcing multiple transfers. This is also one of the reasons why the state government is unable to get the reports faster,” said a source.

Tags : Karnataka Omicron variant COVID cases genome sequencing

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