Tribune News Service
Patiala, November 30
Punjab’s only genome sequencing lab at Patiala’s Government Medical College has said Punjab hasn’t seen ‘Omicron’ variant in Covid cases reported in the state so far—a development that comes as fears of infection driven by the new mutation of Covid-19 virus plagues Punjab and the rest of the country.
The lab said Punjab’s cases still came from the Delta strain and that it had seen no new mutations. The lab, which has been isolating and genome sequencing strains of the Covid-19 virus, says there’s no need to panic just yet.
Dr Rupinder Bakshi, the scientist in charge of the lab, said: “We’ve seen only delta strain so far. A new batch has just been tested, though, and results for these will be out in a day or two.”
Genome sequencing is a method used to determine the genetic makeup of an organism. It’s been used in the case to detect new mutations of viruses.
Sources said that a vast majority—93 per cent—of samples that have undergone genome sequencing in the lab so far belonged to the delta strain, the strain that ravaged the country last year and has since become the most dominant Covid-19 strain in the world. The rest were from the alpha strain.
Punjab’s health department has issued advisories to civil surgeons across the state to remain alert about omicron—the new variant that has more mutations than the deadly delta variant and is feared to be much more transmissible, sources said.
Rajesh Bhasker, Punjab’s nodal officer for Covid-19, said that health authorities have been randomly testing 150 samples every fortnight but will send their samples to Pune’s National Institute of Virology only if they find a mutation other than the delta variant.
“Currently, there is no suspected case for the new variant—omicron,” he said.
No one from high risk countries— including South Africa—have tested positive in the state so far. All the protocols issued by the central government are followed by the state health department.”