A genome sequencing centre has been established on the premises of Siddhartha Medical College, Vijayawada. It started functioning from 1 January.
The lab will detect mutants or new variants of COVID-19 like Delta and Omicron.
This is a first-of-its-kind lab in Andhra Pradesh and second in the country (first is in Kerala) which will be managed by the state government. Technical support for the lab will be provided by CSIR - Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
So far, Andhra Pradesh has reported a total of 17 Omicron cases from foreign travellers coming to AP from different countries, including the US, UAE, Dubai, UK, and Kuwait. Earlier, AP was sending COVID-19 samples for genome sequencing to CCMB, Hyderabad, and it took at least a week for the results to come back. By the time the result was declared, Omicron-positive people had already recovered.
The delay in test results was giving a tough time to the medical and health department that had to immediately track or trace those persons who had come in contact with the positive patients. Also, not all COVID-positive reports could be sent to CCMB, Hyderabad.
Now, with this lab, the health officials can get results immediately and take necessary precautions to avoid the spread. Especially when during this festival season, the state is seeing a surge in cases from tourists travelling to AP and to other states.