The Odisha government on Wednesday asked district administrations and health authorities to strengthen surveillance and take measures for whole genome sequencing of Covid-positive samples after the news surfaced that one of the three cases of the Omicron subvariant BF.7 was detected in the state.
In a letter to all the district collectors, medical colleges and several other authorities concerned, state health department secretary Shalini Pandit said surveillance and whole genome sequencing (WSG) for Covid-19 management are needed in view of a surge in coronavirus cases in China, Japan, the US, Korea and Brazil. “In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in certain counties, it is essential to gear up the disease surveillance and WSG of positive case samples to track the variant through Indian SARS CoV-2 Genomic Consortium (INSACOG) network," Pandit said in the letter.
She also said the strategy of testing, tracking, treating, contact tracing, vaccination and Covid-19 appropriate behaviour needs to be flowed scrupulously to enable "timely detection of newer variant". The case of the Omicron subvariant BF.7, apparently the strain driving China's current surge of COVID infections, was detected in Odisha on September 30, the official said.
The ICMR's Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), Bhubaneswar conducted the genome sequencing of the sample, she said, adding that during the testing, it was found that the "sample was neither a variant of concern (VOC) nor a variant of interest". “No other sample of Omicron BF.7 subvariant was detected in Odisha in the last three months,” she said. The woman, who tested positive for Omicron BF.7, was asymptomatic at the time of the test, the official said.
She underwent the Covid test before her travel to the US. "She and her family have been staying in the US since October. None of them has any flu-like symptoms since their departure from India," the official said. Odisha's Director of Health Services Bijay Mohapatra said the state has all required facilities to deal with any situation.