August 24, 2021 1:12:10 am
GENOMIC SURVEILLANCE by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) identified 128 cases of Covid-19 caused by the delta variant in the city. Results of genome sequencing of the first batch of 188 swab samples collected from the city to identify mutations of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was released on Monday.
Of the 188 samples, 128 are delta variants, 2 are alpha variants and 24 are kappa variants, the remaining 34 are non-significant/local variants. Delta and kappa variants come from a parent lineage – B.1.617, or the double mutant, which was first detected from samples in Vidarbha and was considered to be the main reason for the second wave of infections in India.
On August 4, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray had inaugurated the city’s first genome sequencing laboratory in Kasturba Hospital. On Friday, the civic-run Kasturba Gandhi Hospital started genome sequencing, making it the first civic-run healthcare facility in the state to do so. The lab can test 384 samples in one round.
With certain relaxations announced across the state, including the resumption of local train travel for vaccinated citizens, the BMC has appealed to everyone to follow the Covid-19 measures like wearing masks, maintaining a safe distance, regular hand hygiene and avoiding crowds.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the delta variant has been found in at least 111 countries. Kappa variant is one of the two Covid variants –– the other being delta. According to the WHO, the kappa variant was first identified in India in October 2020. The alpha variant was first discovered in the UK, has been reported from as many as 178 countries, and has the largest footprint.
So far, Maharashtra relied on the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomic Consortia, or INSACOG, a network of 10 laboratories established by the Union health ministry in December, for genome sequencing. In addition to the 10 laboratories identified by the Centre to conduct genome sequencing for all states, Maharashtra has signed an MoU with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology to carry out genome sequencing of around 3,600 Covid-19 samples per month.
Every district sends 100 random samples for genome sequencing as part of a collaboration between the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology and the state government.
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