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Omicron Cases in India – Kerala vs Covid: This Lab Hasn’t Taken A Day Off Since March Last Year



Omicron testing is being carried out on the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram.


After confirming the primary case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, Kerala is operating the genome sequencing exams on 30 extra samples on the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in Thiruvananthapuram.

As NDTV stepped into the laboratory – the place the preliminary 8-hour preparatory work on the samples is completed – the staff members had been seen sporting Personal Protective Equipment or PPE kits, engaged on samples within the demarcated task-specific cabins.

“We have been sent four samples from the primary contacts of the first Omicron positive case. Apart from this, there are around 25 samples we have received from different international airports in the state of passengers who have tested positive for COVID-19,” Dr Radhakrishnan, the scientist in command of the laboratory the place the genome sequencing is being completed, instructed NDTV. The first Omicron case in Kerala, of a UK-returned passenger, was confirmed by the state Health Minister on December 12th.

Genome sequencing at this centre can take as much as a most of 72 hours and a further day or two for bioinformatic particulars when full capability.

“We have a maximum capacity of doing genome sequencing for 3,000 samples a day. When we confirmed the first case, we had just eight samples with us. One flow cell can be used only once and can take a maximum of up to 96 samples. Each flow cell costs 1.2 lakh,” Dr Radhakrishnan defined.

The centre’s laboratory has been working around the clock, with none off days since March 2020.

“This is a national emergency. We have had to put on hold or keep aside specific time slots for other forms of sequencing and prioritise COVID-19 and Omicron. It’s all hands on [deck],” Dr Radhakrishnan mentioned.

On being requested if the time taken to substantiate Omicron by means of a genome sequence in India is larger than different international locations, Dr Radhakrishnan confirmed the extraordinarily compact hand-held machine “Oxford Nanopore” – one of many three machines they use – and mentioned, “This is very much standard. There is no other technology in the world that can do faster than this. Because none of the technology we use in India is currently indigenous. So whatever system the US has, is the same system India has or anywhere else in the world.”

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