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Tripura to start whole genome sequencing to test Omicron cases from February

A press statement issued by the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs (ICA) Saturday said that WGS services would commence at the Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital by February next year.

Written by Debraj Deb | Agartala |
December 25, 2021 5:50:09 pm
As per the health department, out of the 21 cases, five people had travel history to other countries

The state government has decided to start whole-genome sequencing (WGS) for Covid-19 in Tripura in the wake of the threat from the Omicron variant.

A press statement issued by the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs (ICA) Saturday said that WGS services would commence at the Govind Ballabh Pant (GBP) Hospital by February next year.

“The WGS is used for testing Omicron cases. We don’t currently have this facility in Tripura. Test samples are now sent to the National Institute of Biological and Molecular Studies at Kalyani in West Bengal. Our health department has taken necessary initiatives to start this facility at the GBP Hospital by February next year”, ICA Minister Sushanta Chowdhury said.

The minister, however, said that as no Omicron case has been detected in Tripura yet, the government does not have any plan to resume night curfew or other restrictive measures on public movement. But Chowdhury urged people to wear face masks at all times and maintain Covid-19 guidelines.

As per reports, 33 out of 69 people who recently returned from foreign nations to Tripura were tested for Omicron and 31 have tested negative. Two samples are yet to arrive.

The state director for the National Health Mission, Dr Siddhartha Shiv Jaiswal, has urged people to take their second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine at the earliest.

Talking about the issue, Opposition leader Manik Sarkar said that the government should take the initiative to bring the WGS machine as soon as possible.

“They should consult with the Centre and bring the machine here at the earliest. We have efficient lab technicians who could help in this case,” he said.

Reacting to the possible tightening of Covid-19 guidelines, state Trinamool Congress (TMC) convener Subal Bhowmik alleged that restrictions would be put in place in the New Year since the party’s national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee is scheduled to visit Tripura in January.

“The Left parties held a gathering at Agartala, the CM is holding Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsava… meetings are being held at Khumulwng, Christmas is being observed, the New Year would be observed soon, but there is no Covid-19 restriction now. But as Abhishek Banerjee would be coming to Tripura in January and we are scheduled to hold Raj Bhawan Abhiyan on January 5, the state government is planning to tighten Covid-19 protocols,” Bhowmik said.

He said that if the Covid-19 situation is indeed worsening, the CM should stop people from congregating at Ambassa to observe Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.

A BJP spokesperson rubbished the allegations and accused the TMC of making baseless allegations to politicize a public health issue.

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