UPDATED: December 24, 2020 | 10:35 IST
States which have reported Covid-19 positive passengers from the UK who have returned to India over the past few days will now be sending some of the samples for further testing to track the new coronavirus strain. The samples will be sent to select laboratories in the country for genome sequencing.
The health ministry has asked states to coordinate with the respective Airport Health Offices (APHOs) and surveillance officials to ensure strict adherence of the various Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) designed in the wake of the new coronavirus strain.
This comes as a significant development as the health ministry after reviewing the response preparedness of the various states issued the orders. It has also been said that the states must access details of the passengers who have arrived from the UK to India.
The laboratories that have been selected for the genome sequencing facility are CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology New Delhi, CSIR -Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, DBT Institute of Life Sciences, Bhubaneshwar, DBT -In Stem- NCBS, Bangalore, DBT National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIBMG), Kalyani, West Bengal, ICMR National Institute of Virology, Pune.
The lab count would be increased over time. A statement on the above said that the Union health secretary has reviewed the status of passengers coming from the UK to India and found positive cases with Maharashtra and nine other states/UTs.
Genome sequencing is necessary to identify the new strain of SARS-CoV 2. States have advised sending samples for genome sequencing to six identified laboratories.
The ministry had earlier clarified that it would be incorrect to say that the new mutant has entered India until the same was established by designated laboratories.