Special genome sequencing surveillance in Karnataka to detect new variants of COVID-19

Following directions from the Centre, Karnataka Government has directed all ICMR-approved COVID-19 testing labs in the State to send 10% of all positive samples, identified from February 2 to February 28, for genome sequencing.

This is as part of a special genome sequencing surveillance drive to enable detection of new variants proactively. Karnataka has been given a target of 10,000 samples in February.

“As of now, routine genome sequencing is being undertaken with 15 samples fortnightly from each district. However, the Centre has now instructed the State to conduct a special genome sequencing surveillance of COVID-19 with a larger proportion of positive samples,” stated a circular issued in Bengaluru on February 7.

“Samples of patients with international travel history (irrespective of CT value); representative samples from clusters / focal outbreaks with severe morbidity and / or mortality; seriously sick, hospitalised patients and prolonged hospital admissions should be prioritised. Besides, samples from cases of re-infection; breakthrough infections (in fully vaccinated individuals) and from COVID-19 death cases should also be sent for sequencing,” the circular stated.

Management of patients with mental illness

Following recommendations by the State’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), all District Health and Family Welfare Officers, Mental Health Programme Officers along with District and Taluk Mental Health Program (DMHP) teams have been directed to ensure uninterrupted availability of out-patient mental health services.

Along with in-person out-patient services, hospitals can also practice telephonic consultation, telemedicine services and e-prescription as per the existing telemedicine guidelines.

According to a circular issued in Bengaluru, hospitals have been directed to procure the required psychotropic drugs through District Mental Health Programme funds, National free drugs funds or Arogya Raksha Samithi funds. All government healthcare facilities, including PHCs and sub-centres, should ensure adequate supply and stock of essential psychotropics, and dispense the drugs to needy patients. Persons with mental illness should get their regular medications to prevent relapse.

“All persons with mental illness in quarantine/isolation should be contacted on a daily basis. Those with moderate to severe COVID-19 infection and requiring hospitalisation should be admitted in designated COVID-19 hospitals without any prejudice and should be treated equally. Non-pharmacological interventions, such as counseling and psychotherapy, should be provided simultaneously. Considering the unique challenges faced by persons with mental illness during the pandemic, the officials should stretch their resources and accommodate them without undue referral to other health care facilities,” the circular states.

“In the wake of increased number of patients in home isolation during the third wave, the available helplines — NIMHANS helpline (080-46110007), child helpline (1098) and Yuva helpline (155265) — should be used to seek psychosocial support and mental health care,” the circular states.

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Printable version | Jun 27, 2022 7:07:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/special-genome-sequencing-surveillance-in-karnataka-to-detect-new-variants-of-covid-19/article38395555.ece