INSACOG to hold meeting on genome sequencing in country

According to sources in the Union Health Ministry earlier on Wednesday, the next 40 days will be crucial as India may see a surge in Covid cases in mid-January
Representative image
Representative image ANI

NEW DELHI: The Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) will hold a virtual meeting Friday evening on Genome sequencing which will focus on the genome sequencing results of international travellers who tested Covid-19 positive, sources told ANI.

It's expected that INSACOG will be once again releasing a bulletin from next week on updates about the types of variants present in India. In November INSACOG issued a bulletin mentioning that XBB BJ.1/ BM.1.1.1 detected in multiple states in India, "XBB, a BJ 1/ BM.1.1.1 recombinant lineage with a breakpoint in the spike protein is presently appearing in multiple countries.

This recombinant lineage was first detected in Singapore and US and has also been identified in multiple states in India. A sub-lineage of XBB with an additional mutation is also detected (XBB.1)."

As per the latest guidelines, international passengers travelling to India from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand will have to undergo mandatory RT-PCR tests before departure and upload a report on the Air Suvidha portal from January 1, 2023, said Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

This is in addition to the random 2 per cent tests of all international passengers on their arrival in India irrespective of the port of departure, stated the Union Health Ministry. It said that the test should have been conducted within 72 hours of undertaking the journey to India. This is being done in view of the evolving COVID-19 situation worldwide, particularly in the aforesaid countries.

According to sources in the Union Health Ministry earlier on Wednesday, the next 40 days will be crucial as India may see a surge in Covid cases in mid-January.

The sources added that the assessment was made after analysing the previous trends of the Covid surge in the country. Amid the explosion in Covid cases in some countries, the operational readiness of healthcare facilities is under review in all states and Union Territories in anticipation of another wave.

Two passengers from Dubai tested positive for Covid at the Chennai airport on Wednesday. "Two passengers, who arrived from Dubai, tested positive at the Chennai airport today. Both hail from the Alangudi district of Tamil Nadu's Pudukkottai. Their test samples have been sent to the State Public Health Laboratory," read a statement issued by the Tamil Nadu Health department on Wednesday.

At least 39 international fliers tested positive for Covid between December 24 and 26. Taking due cognisance of the global surge in cases, including in China, the Centre had directed random testing of international passengers.

"Passengers of as many as 498 international flights were screened in the last three days -- December 24, 25 and 26. A total of 1,780 swab samples were collected for Covid tests. The cumulative number of samples collected (from international fliers), so far, is 3,994.

The cumulative number of samples testing positive for Covid is 39 and of samples sent for whole genome sequencing is 39," a source told ANI on Tuesday.

In light of the Covid surge in several countries, hospitals across the country on Tuesday conducted mock drills to assess their pandemic preparedness. The same was done in compliance with a directive issued by the Centre.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya personally oversaw one such mock drill at Delhi's Safdarjung Hospital.

"To ensure that there is no Covid surge in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked us to be careful. The government is also making necessary preparations in anticipation of a rise in Covid infections.

Today, mock drills are being conducted across Covid hospitals in the country to ensure people receive proper treatment in the event of a rise in cases," Mandaviya told reporters at Safdarjung Hospital on Tuesday.

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