Following a surge in infections and amid concerns over the emergence of new COVID-19 strains, 800 to 900 samples from Maharashtra and Kerala have been sent for genome sequencing in the last month, sources in the Union health ministry said. Maharashtra and Kerala account for more than 74 per cent of total active caseloads in the country.
In all, nearly 6,000 samples have been sent for genome sequencing with samples also being sought from Punjab and Bengaluru. Besides Maharashtra and Kerala, other places to report a rise in cases are Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Jammu, Kashmir, Chhattisgarh and Haryana.
The sources said it will become clear in a few days if new variants are responsible for the resurgence of cases.
“Micro-level monitoring” is being done in Kerala and Mumbai, they said.
India’s genome sequencing has not been up to the mark so far, despite 10 surveillance sites for genomic sequencing being set up, admit government officials. This will hopefully change over the next few weeks. The official target for genome sequencing is 5 per cent.
The Centre has asked for more regular testing to monitor mutant strains followed by genome sequencing as well as monitoring the emergence of clusters in the seven states reporting a surge in infections.
This year, new virus strains were discovered in countries such as the UK, Brazil and South Africa.