Genome sequencing lab being set up in Puducherry to detect Omicron and other Covid variants

Though only two cases of Omicron were reported in Puducherry, they were detected two weeks after the infection. This was because the confirmatory test for all variants has to be done by INSACOG.

Published: 03rd January 2022 07:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd January 2022 07:52 PM   |  A+A-

Chief Minister N Rangasamy along with PWD Minister K Lakshminarayanan and MLAs and officials inspecting the quarantine facilities (Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

PUDUCHERRY: Amidst a surge in Omicron variant cases in the country, the Puducherry government is in the process of establishing a genome sequencing laboratory at the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Research Institute for early detection of Omicron and other variants of Covid as well as ramping up infrastructure.

Though only two cases of Omicron were reported in Puducherry, they were detected only two weeks after the infection. This was because the confirmatory test for Omicron and other variants has to be done by the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia (INSACOG), Bengaluru. With early detection being important to control the spread, the Puducherry government has initiated the process of establishing the laboratory in the exiting virology laboratory at IGMCRI, Director of Health Dr G Sriramulu told The New Indian Express.

After the Centre directed all states to establish a genome sequencing laboratory for detection of the variant in Covid infected people, Chief Minister N Rangasamy, who is also the Health Minister, had given approval for establishing it, he said. Tenders have been floated in the government e-Market portal for procurement of equipment to establish the facility, said Dr Sriramulu. Establishing the facility will involve an expenditure of around ₹1 to ₹2 crores, said the Director. The detection of Covid is also being enhanced with more RAT tests, in addition to RT-PCR tests.

In the meantime, the health department is ramping up mass quarantine centres and health infrastructure and personnel as part of its preparation in case of a surge in Omicron cases in the UT.

Chief Minister N Rangasamy on Monday visited the Old Port, Integrated Fish Market on ECR and Community Hall at Lawspet to explore the setting up of quarantine centres. In the old port area where there are three large halls constructed by the Department of Tourism recently, around 400 patients can be admitted, said Dr Sriramulu who accompanied the Chief Minister during the visits. Besides, at the Integrated Fish market, the hall can accommodate around 100 to 150 patients and in the Community Hall at Lawspet another 50 to 60 patients can be admitted, said the Director.

The use of the large halls in the defunct Anglo French Textile mills at Mudaliarpet, which are capable of accommodating around 300 patients, is also under consideration. Lt Governor Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan along with officials visited the place last week.

All these places are being made ready to quarantine infected people, he said. The Centre has directed all state governments to prepare themselves for a third wave following the increasing number of Omicron variant cases, said Dr Sriramulu.

Orders have already been placed for acquisition of around 500 additional cots. These are foldable steel cots which can be kept as reserve cots and used if necessary, he said. The government is engaging health workers on contract service every three to four months for all the vacant posts and if necessary more contract workers will be engaged, he said. There are adequate oxygen and ventilator facilities in all hospitals. In addition to the oxygen generation plants in government and private hospitals, there are enough oxygen concentrators, said the Director.


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