Govt directs all states to step up genome sequencing to check for new variant
The Health Ministry has written to all states to increase genome sequencing of positive cases to track coronavirus variants through the INSACOG network. The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium, or INSACOG, is a consortium of over 50 laboratories to monitor genomic variations in the COVID-19 virus.
The Centre on Tuesday urged states to speed up the genetic sequencing of positive samples in response to the unexpected increase in Covid-19 cases in China and other nations. Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will hold a meeting to review COVID situation in the country with ministry officials on Wednesday, sources said.
The health ministry said, "In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive case samples to track the variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network."
"Such an exercise will enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and will facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same. In this context, all states are requested to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLS) that are mapped to the States and UTS,” the health ministry added.
In a letter to additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries, and secretaries (Health) of all states and union territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan emphasised the critical need of tracking the trends of current variations.
He emphasised that India has been successful in limiting the spread of the coronavirus and is seeing around 1,200 cases on a weekly basis thanks to its focus on the five-fold approach of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour. Public health challenge of COVID-19 still persists around the world with around 35 lakh cases reported weekly, Bhushan said.
Cases are soaring across China, with hospitals struggling and pharmacy shelves stripped bare in the wake of the government's sudden decision to lift years of lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing. Given the possibility of subsequent mutations and the magnitude of China's economy, the United States has warned that the outbreak is now of worry to the rest of the globe.