Delhi Gets Its First Genome Sequencing Lab To Check New Covid-19 Strain

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Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday got its first portable genome sequencing laboratory for testing the new Covid-19 strain.

The lab was set up by SpiceHealth and government research institute CSIR-IGIB on Thursday.

On November 23rd, SpiceHealth had successfully launched its first mobile test facility offering the cheapest RT-PCR tests for Rs. 499. SpiceHealth currently performs 10,000 to 15,000 tests per day in its laboratories, which operate in government-requested locations near the Delhi NCR.

The company has teamed up with CSIR-CCMB for this task.

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Previously, SpiceHealth had also launched SpiceOxy – a compact, portable, non-invasive ventilator that is an effective solution for patients with mild to moderate breathing problems.

In addition, SpiceHealth had introduced the fingertip pulse oximeter, a handy device that made it easier for people to measure oxygen levels in their blood.

The laboratory was inaugurated by Dr VK Paul, member (health) NITI Aayog and Chairman, National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC), in the presence of Dr Anurag Agrawal, Director of CSIR-IGIB, Ajay Singh, CMD of SpiceJet and Avani Singh, CEO of SpiceHealth.

The samples will be sequenced to identify and check for a mutant variant of the new coronavirus strain that was first found in the United Kingdom.

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“We have started a pilot project with SpiceHealth here at the airport to find out if we can generate the ‘sequence’ in less than 48 hours and inform the government in case there is a virus variant,” said Anurag Agrawal.

However, international passengers – except the ones coming from the UK – can avoid institutional quarantine in India only when either they get Covid-negative report from a RT-PCR test done 72 hours prior to the journey or from the RT-PCR test done on arrival at the airport.

Currently, every UK passenger is required to provide a Covid negative report from a sample taken 72 hours prior to travel and retested after landing in India.

So far, since flights between India and the UK resumed on January 8, at least seven returnees from the country have tested positive at the Delhi airport after they underwent a mandatory RT-PCR test on their arrival.

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