Health Ministry asks all States to gear up genome sequencing of positive COVID-19 case samples
New Delhi, December 20, 2022
The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare today urged all states to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive COVID-19 case samples to track the variants through the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG).
In a letter to the State Governments, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said such an exercise would enable timely detection of newer variants, if any, circulating in the country and facilitate undertaking of requisite public health measures.
The letter has been sent in view of the sudden spurt of COVID-19 cases being witnessed in Japan, United States of America, South Korea, Brazil and China.
"In this context, all states are requested to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) that are mapped to the States and UTs," Bhushan said.
The Health Secretary said that India, with its focus on five-fold strategy of test-track-treat-vaccination and adherence to COVID Appropriate Behaviour, had been able to restrict the transmission of COVID-19 virus and is having around 1,200 cases on a weekly basis. "Public health challenge of COVID-19 stil persists around the world with around 35 lakh cases reported weekly," he said.
"The 'Operational Guidelines for Revised Surveillance Strategy' in the context of COVID-19 issued by the Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare in June, 2022 calls for early detection, isolation, testing, and timely management of suspected and confirmed cases to detect and and contain outbreaks of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Therefore, monitoring the trends of existing variants is of crucial importance," he said.
"Ministry of Health & Family Welfare commends the consistent hard work put in by all States/UTs and will continue to extend required support to all states in this regard," Bhushan added.