Covid genome sequencing lab set up in Patiala
To identify new variants of coronavirus, the Punjab government has commenced its first state-run Covid-19 genome sequencing facility at VRDL laboratory in Patiala.
Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said about 150 samples had been tested so far and no new variant of coronavirus was identified. The state government had sent all samples of suspected patients of new variants to Delhi where they took more than a month to provide confirmation of new variants.
“According to experts, if any case of new variant found in a specific area, then there is immediate need to conduct contact tracing and testing of all suspected patients to further prevent the spread of virus. With the availability of genome sequencing facility at GMC, Patiala, the reports are now coming in 5 to 6 days,” he said.
Underlining the features of the facility, the health minister said the laboratory received MinION Mk1C - a unique compact and portable USB-powered device that allows one to sequence both DNA and RNA with real-time analysis – developed by UK-based Oxford Nanopore.
The genome sequencer and supportive equipment has been donated by a US based non-profit organisation, PATH, as part of their ongoing Covid-19 response support to the state. He also lauded the efforts of the lab in-charge at GMC, Patiala.