Genome sequencing lab likely to start at LNJP Hospital by July 1st week

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New Delhi, Jun 23 (PTI) A genome sequencing laboratory, to identify variants of coronavirus, is likely to start at the Delhi government's Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan (LNJP) Hospital by the first week of July, officials said on Wednesday.

A genetic sequencing machine for the laboratory has been procured from Singapore after the government issued a tender for it, they said.

Earlier this month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that two genome sequencing laboratories to identify variants of coronavirus will come up at the LNJP Hospital and at the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

Setting up of these laboratories are part of the Delhi government''s preparations to tackle a possible third wave of coronavirus, which many feel may be triggered by the Delta plus variant which has been declared as a ''variant of concern'' by the Union Health Ministry.

Around 40 cases of the Delta plus variant have been detected sporadically in Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

'We are planning to start the genome sequencing laboratory by the first week of July. We have virology and microbiology departments here so we already have the manpower. There are 10-15 ICMR projects going on at the hospital so we have the scientists here to carry out research,' said Suresh Kumar, the medical director of the hospital.

Genome sequencing allows tracking of small mutations in SARS-CoV2 so that chains of transmission can be identified.

'Genome sequencing laboratories are being created so that we get to know about the coronavirus variant that comes to Delhi, whether it is an old or a new one. We can then ask experts what precautions need to be taken,' Kejriwal had said while announcing the two genome sequencing labs.

The national capital reported 111 coronavirus cases on Wednesday at a positivity rate of 0.15 per cent, while seven more people succumbed to the infection, according to data shared by the health department here.

Delhi was severely affected by the second wave of the coronavirus with infection rate spiking to 36 per cent in the end of April. However, cases saw a steady decline after that, following which the government began preparations for a possible third wave. PTI SLB CK

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