BHUBANESWAR: The super mutant SARS-CoV2 variant Omicron is fast replacing the Delta in Odisha. As per the genome sequencing data on Wednesday, the share of Omicron has gone up to around 60% from 25.5% last week.
Of the 249 samples sequenced at the Institute of Life Sciences (ILS), here, 148 have been detected with the new highly transmissible variant taking the Omicron tally to 349. The rest 101 samples were found to be Delta and its sub-linages.
Sources said the community samples sequenced on Tuesday were collected from 10 districts - Balasore, Ganjam, Bhadrak, Cuttack, Jajpur, Jharsuguda, Khurda, Mayurbhanj, Nayagarh and Sundargarh between January 9 and 15.
While a maximum of 92 samples have been found with Omicron sub-type BA.2 and 24 with BA.1, the rest 32 have been detected with B.1.1.529. Last week, the share of the Delta variant was around 74.5%.
ILS Director Dr. Ajay Parida said a total of 274 community samples were received at the lab of which 25 had low coverage due to high CT value. "The 249 samples with CT value below 28 were sequenced. The analysis revealed that Omicron is taking over Delta and the new variant is behind the surge in new cases in Odisha like other cities and states," he added.
Meanwhile, the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) on Wednesday started the dry run of 'OmiSure' RT-PCR test kits for early detection of the Omicron variant. Developed by Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd in partnership with ICMR, the new kit can identify the variant in four hours.
Odisha was the first state to place an order to procure five lakh OmiSure kits on January 10. The state has received 30,000 kits in the first phase and the rest will arrive every alternative day.
Director of Health Services Dr. Bijay Mohapatra said the OmiSure kit can detect Omicron in nasopharyngeal/oropharyngeal specimens during the RT-PCR tests. It is compatible with all standard RT-PCR machines and the validation of the kit has been completed, he said.
"OmiSure will be first used in Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur and Rourkela and the district headquarters recording a high test positivity rate (TPR). The kits will be dispatched to the selected cities and districts from Thursday," he added.
The state government on Wednesday ruled out strict restrictions like lockdown and shut down to protect the livelihoods of people.
Chief Secretary Suresh Chandra Mahapatra said though Covid cases are rapidly rising across the country and the state as well due to the Omicron variant, the Covid guidelines have been designed to control the spread of the infections without disrupting the livelihoods of people.
"The state has been able to tackle the spread of virus so far. The hospitalisation and ICU needs of patients are less during the third wave as compared to the first and second wave. About two percent of the active cases are requiring hospitalisation as against 10 to 12% in previous waves. But that does not warrant any laxity," Mahapatra said and urged people to scrupulously follow the Covid appropriate behaviour.