LG directs cluster-based genome sequencing in Delhi as new COVID-19 variants suspected

·3-min read

New Delhi, Feb 22 (PTI) Lt Governor Anil Baijal Monday directed officials to launch cluster-based genome sequencing testing here as authorities and experts discussed new coronavirus variants at a meeting of the Delhi Disaster Management Authority, official sources said.

There was no official confirmation, however, if the mutant variants have emerged in the national capital so far, even though recent media reports cited a Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) study to claim that 7,569 coronavirus mutants are in circulation in the country.

Official sources said the lieutenant governor was told at the DDMA meeting that the newly-identified Indian mutants are reportedly 'highly contagious' and that experts viewed it as a 'major cause of concern'.

'To deal with the new variants, the (Delhi) government will undertake cluster-based genome sequencing testing in Delhi. Testing, tracing and isolating will be intensified in the coming days,' the sources said.

Mutant variants linked to the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil have been detected in India so far.

The DDMA meeting was chaired by the LG and it was attended by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, his deputy Manish Sisodia, Chief Secretary Vijay Dev and other senior Delhi government officers.

The country has recorded a steady rise in the number of COVID-19 active cases over the past few days with a surge in daily infections in five states -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab -- and Jammu and Kashmir, prompting the Centre to direct them to refocus on strict surveillance, containment and RT-PCR testing.

The national capital, which has witnessed three waves of the coronavirus, has not reported surge in cases over the last few weeks.

In the DDMA meeting on Monday, sources said that officials were directed to take steps to prevent a rise in COVID-19 cases in the city, including arrangements for people arriving from Maharashtra and other states that have witnessing the surge, sources said.

The LG also said there should be no lowering of guard against the coronavirus, they added.

Baijal also directed officials to speed up the ongoing vaccination drive in the city and ensure the current levels of RT-PCR testing and tracking are sustained.

It was decided at the meeting that public buses and metro trains in the national capital would run at their current limited capacities for at least two more weeks, the sources said.

“Delhi Metro trains and public buses will run at previously fixed limited capacities for now. It is a vigilant wait-and-watch for another two weeks,” a source said.

Delhi recorded 128 new COVID-19 cases and one fatality on Monday, even as the positivity rate stood at 0.30 per cent.

With the latest update in figures, the authorities said, the overall death toll rose to 10,901 and the number of cases went up to 6,38,028.

The 128 new cases came out of 42,242 tests -- including 31,234 RT-PCR tests and 11,008 rapid antigen tests -- conducted on Sunday, a health bulletin said.

The number of active cases stands at 1,041, it showed. PTI BUN BUN TIR TIR