KEM Covid cluster: Samples sent for genome sequencing
A day after 30 undergraduate students from GS Medical College attached to the KEM Hospital tested positive for Covid-19, a few of their samples have been sent for genome sequencing at the Kasturba Hospital. Since 29 students were fully vaccinated and only one was unvaccinated, doctors said that genome sequencing may help identify if a specific variant had caused the cluster of infections.
Nearly 200 samples of students and their close contacts were sent for testing after two students tested positive. “We had sent another 145 samples for testing but none of them returned positive,” said Dr Hemant Deshmukh, dean of KEM Hospital. “Since a majority of the students had breakthrough infections, we have sent some of their samples to the laboratory in Kasturba Hospital for genome sequencing,” he said. Infections that occur 14 days after full vaccination are known are breakthrough infections.
A UG student who did not wish to be named said that all students have been asked to get tested as a precautionary measure. “While in the hostel, we have been asked to compulsorily use masks, even in the rooms,” he said adding that their classes are now being held online. He said that convocation was held on September 26 for students who have completed their internships, but UG students had not attended the event.
A similar cluster of infections was detected in the TN Medical College attached to the BYL Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central. “Nearly half a dozen UG students had tested positive and about six of them were fully vaccinated,” said Dr Ramesh Bharmal, dean of the hospital. “We had sent their samples for genome sequencing at Kasturba Hospital. We have not been informed if there was a specific variant that was responsible for the cluster of infections,” he said.
Since the vaccination began in January this year, many senior doctors and resident doctors in the city have suffered from breakthrough infections. “All these cases have been mild or asymptomatic,” said a resident doctor from Nair Hospital. He said that some of the infections had surfaced after the centenary year celebration events. “Our convocation event was cancelled by the dean as a precaution,” he said.