Principal Secretary Medical Education and Research Mr DK Tiwari today said that in order to check the mutation of new mutated strain (N501Y) SARS-CoV-2 virus in Punjab, the state government has decided to send 5% positive samples per week to Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), Delhi and NCDC, Delhi- Division of Biotechnology, Epidemiology and Central Surveillance Unit.

Divulging the details, the Principal Secretary said that it was part of the master plan conceived by the state government led by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh to contain the spread of new virus in Punjab. He said that after the emergence of new mutated strain (N501Y) SARS-CoV-2 virus with high transmissibility, an advisory was issued by Government of India that the new strain could also be circulating in India too. Mr Tiwari said Punjab has sent random positive samples 80 from Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratory (VRDL) GMC Patiala, 40 each from VRDL GMC Amritsar and VRDL GGMC Faridkot to check the emergence of new mutated (N501Y) SARS-CoV-2 virus strain to NIV Pune.

The Principal Secretary said that samples were selected from September to December 2020 adding that apart from that, all the passengers who came from UK were screened for Covid-19. He said that eight patients came positive for Covid-19 at VRDL GMC Amritsar and one at VRDL GMC Patiala. Mr Tiwari said that samples of these nine patients have been sent to NIV Pune for sequencing to check new mutated (N501Y) SARS-CoV-2 virus strain.

The Principal Secretary said that three viral testing labs, one each, in Government Medical Colleges have been pioneer in viral research during Covid pandemic. He said that after starting two labs at GMC Patiala & Amritsar in March 2020, third lab was started at Faridkot medical college. Mr Tiwari said that these medical colleges have achieved appreciation in viral testing and research with the hard work, dedication, commitment and diligence of faculty and technician adding that under the overall supervision of ICMR the labs have maintained testing quality and efficiency as per government guidelines.

The Principal Secretary further said that various activities of VRDL have been undertaken in the state to check mutated Covid 19 virus. He said that since March till date 25.74 lakh tests have been done by the state government. Mr Tiwari said that from March till now 78,666 persons have been detected Covid positive so far.

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