Bengaluru: Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Saturday said that 14 of the 2,500 passengers who returned from the UK since November 25 had tested coronavirus positive and their samples sent for genome sequencing tests to find if anyone was infected with a mutant strain.
Sudhakar told reporters that the Health Department had so far conducted tests on 1,638 of the 2,500 passengers till December 22.
“Of the 1,638, 14 were positive. Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (Nimhans) for genome sequencing test. Nimhans is one of the 10 institutes selected by the Health Ministry to conduct these tests. Along with Nimhans, the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) at Bengaluru can also carry out the tests,” he explained.
Sudhakar said that genome sequencing was a time-consuming process of at least three to four days. “The new strain of the virus found in the UK has 14 mutations, so genome sequencing tests are taking some time,” he said.
According to the Minister, the state will not have direct access to these reports. “The Nimhans or NCBS is supposed to send the reports to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which in turn will disclose these to the respective states.”
He said that the union government has barred the state government from sharing any details about the new variants of coronavirus.
The Minister clarified that the state government has neither directed nor helped any VIP to secure ‘Covaxin’ at this stage. “Covaxin is still in the trial stage. Inaugurating the third round of trials of this vaccine, I had appealed to frontline health workers to get shots for their own safety,” he said.