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No mass Covid testing in state now, will wait for results of genome sequencing: Maha Health Sec

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Maharashtra Health Secretary Sanjay Khandare on Wednesday said that the state would be sending all COVID-19-positive samples to laboratories in Mumbai and Pune and based on their results the state government will decide on Covid norms and added there were no plans to conduct mass testing now.

Khandare’s statement came a day after the Union Health Ministry issued an advisory for states and union territories to track Covid variants through Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) network. Powered By There has been an increase in COVID cases in China, Japan, Brazil and the US among other countries.

Speaking to the media, Maharashtra Health Secretary Sanjay Khandare said, “As per Union health department’s advisory, we will send all the samples for genome sequencing, adding that the samples will be sent to Pune and Mumbai labs.

“Currently, Maharashtra is having around 100 positive cases daily in the State so we will go for genome sequencing of all the positive samples,” Maharashtra Health Secretary told media over the phone.

“Based on the result of genome sequencing and the Union government’s instructions, we will decide Maharashtra’s covid norms,” he added.

On starting random covid testing at railway stations, Airports, etc., the State’s health official said, “We have no plans as of now. We are waiting for further instructions from the Union government on the issue.”

Khandare stressed that vaccinating the State’s population remains a priority. “The vaccination drive in the state is continuing, and we will push the vaccination drive in the state, it is also our priority now,” he said.

“Our health infrastructure is in place and we will activate all Covid-related medical setups if required,” Sanjay said, adding that there are no plans for mass testing as of now.

Earlier on Tuesday, Union Health Ministry requested States and Union Territories to send samples of all COVID-19-positive cases to INSACOG labs to track new variants, if any.

The Health Ministry and INSACOG are keeping a sharp watch on the situation. “In view of the sudden spurt of cases being witnessed in Japan, the United States of America, the Republic of Korea, Brazil and China, it is essential to gear up the whole genome sequencing of positive cases samples to track the variants through SARS-CoV-2 Genome Consortium Network (INSACOG) network,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter addressed to the States and Union Territories on Tuesday.

“All states are requested to ensure that as far as possible samples of all positive cases, on a daily basis, are sent to the designated INSACOG Genome Sequencing Laboratories (IGSLs) that are mapped to the States and UTs,” said Union Health Secretary.

“Such an exercise will enable the timely detection of new variants. If any, circulating in the country and will facilitate the undertaking of requisite public health measures for the same,” added Bhushan.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya held a review meeting with senior officials and experts on the COVID-19 situation in the country today.

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