Community surveillance to gauge spread of Omicron variant in Pune
PUNE According to officials, at least 315 samples have been collected from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad in order to understand the community spread of Omicron variant. These samples are randomly positive samples from the city and their genome sequencing will highlight if they are the Omicron variant.
Pune district has reported 41 cases so far. Directorate of health services issued a letter stating that community surveillance on the emergence of the Omicron variant will be carried out from December 21 to 31.
Dr Archana Patil, director of health services, Pune said daily positive samples of RT PCR from Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) and Mumbai will be collected and sent for genome sequencing. “Hundred samples each day from PMC and PCMC and 300 samples from Mumbai will be sent for genome sequencing. PMC and PCMC samples will be sent to BJ Medical College,” said Dr Patil.
Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, professor and head of department, Microbiology, BJ Medical College said that the whole genome sequencing of positive patients will be done for PMC and PCMC. “These are randomly selected RT PCR positive samples. As Omicron cases are on the rise, we are trying to see if there is community spread of the variant. Until December 21, we have sequenced around 865 samples and there has been no Omicron variant in the test results. There are 499 samples which are in the process of sequencing,” he said.
He added that patients who tested positive and have a travel history, their samples are sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune.
“Community samples are to be collected in bulk. At present the positivity rate is very low. As of now, over 300 samples are ready for genome sequencing run which will be done on Sunday,” said Dr Karyakarte.
“Earlier,at least 1,364 samples were sequenced. Sufficient samples should be sequenced to get a better and clear picture of the lineage of the virus. Whole genome sequencing of more samples should be emphasised,” added Dr Karyakarte.
Speaking about the samples, Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer said that the samples are still being collected and the results are expected soon.
For community surveillance, BJ Medical College will distribute samples to Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and National Centre for Cell Science (NCCS) as per the requirement. Whereas in Mumbai, Kasturba Central Laboratory will conduct the genome sequencing and additional samples will be referred to BJMC as per the order.
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