COVID-19: J&K to get two genome sequencing labs soon, says health officials

A medical worker works on the preliminary blood test of people tested for COVID-19 at the Chulalongkorn University Health Service Center in Bangkok, Thailand, April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha
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Jammu and Kashmir is set to have two whole genome sequencing labs very soon after which samples of Covid positive persons will be tested in the region.

Top health officials said that very soon J&K will have two whole genome sequencing labs which were proposed by the government in peak second wave.

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Pertinently, as of now J&K has no whole genome sequencing labs due to which tests are being sent to NCDC Delhi from where reports are coming very late.

Following the second wave of Covid-19 J&K, the government had planned to set up two genome sequencing labs one each in Srinagar and Jammu, however several months have passed, the planned labs are nowhere in sight.

Owing to the lack of labs, the samples are still being sent to Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Delhi for genome sequencing.

As the cases of new variant Omicron are increasing each passing day in different states of India, authorities in J&K have no option other than to send all samples to NCDC for genome sequencing so as to keep check on the new variant and stop it from spreading.

Pertinently, the government of India has already asked all States and Union Territories to send samples of every Covid positive patient for genome sequencing.

Accordingly, authorities in J&K are sending samples of every Covid positive patient to NCDC Delhi and are forced to wait for one month to get the reports.

Top health officials said that during second wave of Covid authorities decided to set up two genome sequencing labs one in GMC Jammu and other in GMC Srinagar/SKIMS Soura besides that all details were shared with Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies corporation Limited (JKMSCL) for procurement of the machines required for installing two labs.

Managing Director JMSCL Dr Yashpal Sharma said that the process of procurement took time as they have floated tenders thrice for the procurement of the genome testing machines but every time only a single bid was received.

He said authorities from Jammu have already sent all details about the machines to be procured, however, microbiologists at Kashmir are checking the rate, reasonability of the machines to be procured.

He said that such machines are to be installed for the first time in J&K so all things are being kept in mind and very soon machines will be procured and installed in the region.