The cases of the infectious double mutant variant B.1.617 have increased by 640 per cent in 15 days in Karnataka - from 20 on April 27 to 148 cases on May 12.
This has been declared as a variant of concern by the World Health Organisation because of its increased transmissibility. The mutant is already present in 46 countries across the world.
Currently, around 700 samples pending from Karnataka are waiting to be sequenced at NIMHANS, which is still waiting for reagents to come as there is a surge in global demand for them.
“We have been asked to sequence 5 per cent Covid samples by INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia). Every week, the lab is sequencing 150 to 200 samples,” said Dr V Ravi, nodal officer for genetic confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 in Karnataka.
Some districts have received instructions from the Health department to send at least 30 samples per month for sequencing, with priority for international travellers, domestic travellers, and clusters.
Top officials in the BBMP and the state health department did not respond to DH’s queries on the district-wise breakup of these 148 Covid patients with the mutant virus.
Chamarajanagar District Surveillance Officer Dr Nagaraju, said, “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.”
Mysuru District Surveillance Officer Dr Shivaprasad also confirmed receiving such guidelines from the state.
Shivamogga district epidemiologist Dr Irfan Ahmed told DH, “So far, we have sent samples of six international travellers for genetic sequencing and one of a 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,” he said.