Amid Omicron, Govt to set up Genome Sequencing Lab in Kashmir

Likely to come up at GMC or SKIMS; process on

Irfan Tramboo

Srinagar, Dec 4: As the threat of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 looms large, the Government of J&K is mulling to set up Genome Sequencing Lab (GSL) in Kashmir in the coming days.
The Laboratory is either going to come up at Government Medical College (GMC), Srinagar or at SKIMS, Soura where the samples of people testing positive for the COVID-19 will be analysed in order to detect the mutation in the samples, if any.
The need for the GSL has been felt more in the wake of the Omicron variant which has been marked by the World Health Organization as a ‘variant of concern’ and the countries have been directed to step up the surveillance and other measures in order to keep a check on the overall emerging situation.
In this connection, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Pandurang K. Pole told Excelsior that the administration is mulling to set up the GSL soon and the facility might come up at GMC Srinagar or SKIMS Soura. “We haven’t yet decided on where exactly the facility will come up, but the process is on,” he said.
The officials in the Health Department also confirmed the move to Excelsior and said that with regard to setting up the GSL, the process is currently on and that they are expecting a breakthrough soon.
Also, it has been learned that the SKIMS, Soura has already submitted a proposal concerning setting up of the GSL at the premier hospital of the UT. However, the officials there told Excelsior that they have not witnessed any headway in this direction, nor have they received any feedback so far.
“We have already submitted a proposal for setting up GSL at SKIMS to the Government, but we have not heard about it so far; the matter was even recently taken up during the review meeting and the need for having a GSL at the hospital was highlighted,” an official.
It is to be noted here that Kashmir is currently sending a selected portion of samples of positive cases to Delhi for sequencing and has to wait for days for the results of the same.
However, with more States setting up their GSLs, the authorities here have been directed to increase the number of samples which they used to send for the sequencing, but there is an increasing sense of need being felt for setting up of the GSL in Kashmir.
Pertinent to mention here that as per the guidelines, the passengers from ‘At-Risk’ countries reaching Srinagar Airport are to be tested and their samples are to be sent for the Genome Sequencing to ascertain the nature of the variant. It is the sequencing that establishes the presence of the variant of COVID-19.