In Karnataka, the cases of the infectious double mutant virus B.1.617 have increased by a whopping 640 per cent in the past 15 days. The total cases were 20 as recorded on April 27. However, the total number increased to 148 cases as of May 12.
The current variant has been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organization (WHO) because of its increased transmissibility. As of now, this mutant is already present in 46 other countries across the world.
In addition to this, there are around 700 samples that are pending in Karnataka and waiting to be sequenced at NIMHANS, which is still waiting for reagents to come as there has been an increase in global demand from them.
"We have been asked to sequence 5 per cent COVID-19 samples by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia). Every week, the lab is sequencing 150 to 200 samples," mentioned Dr V Ravi, nodal officer for genetic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka, as reported by Deccan Herald.
A few institutions have also received instructions from the Health Department to send at least 30 samples per month for sequencing, with special priority to international travellers, domestic travellers and clusters.
BBMP top officials and the state health department have not answered regarding the district-wise breakup of the 148 COVID-19 patients with the mutant virus.
"We have received guidelines from the state last week to send 15 samples each, on the 15th and the 30th of every month. The priority is for those with international travel history followed by interstate and inter-district travel history, especially those from Bengaluru," said Chamarajanagar District Surveillance Officer Dr Nagaraju.
In addition to this, the Shivamogga district epidemiologist Dr Irfan Ahmed also said, "So far, we have sent samples of six international travellers for genetic sequencing and one of the primary contact. This was before January 8. After January 8, only one tested positive for South Africa strain. He recovered and was discharged. None of his contacts had the strain."