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The SpiceHealth Genome Sequencing Laboratory, set up in a freight truck trailer, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (Bloomberg)
The SpiceHealth Genome Sequencing Laboratory, set up in a freight truck trailer, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi (Bloomberg)

SpiceJet unit to set up test labs for new Covid strain at Delhi airport

SpiceJet said that CSIR’s experience using portable sequencers suggests that it is possible to identify variants within 48 hours of a person arriving in India and testing positive

New Delhi: SpiceHealth, the health care arm of no-frill carrier SpiceJet Limited, has tied up with CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB) to set up a portable testing laboratory for genome sequencing at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport for all positive samples from international travellers, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

"Under this program, all positive samples from international travellers arriving at Delhi’s IGI airport would be sequenced at the airport sequencing laboratory, to ensure early action in containing new mutant variants that have increased transmissibility," the statement added.

About 109 people have been infected with the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus) in India has reached 109 at present, the Ministry of health and family welfare said on Thursday, up from 96 on 11 January.

The new variant is a far more contagious strain, and affected patients are being are being kept in single-room isolation at designated healthcare facilities by the respective state governments.

“Affordable and widespread point of care sequencing is one of the most important new trends in next age diagnostics. Here, we plan to use it to help in better monitoring and managing the SARS CoV2 pandemic, but this is just a beginning towards its many potential clinical and public health applications," said Anurag Agrawal, Director, CSIR-IGIB.

SpiceJet said that CSIR’s experience using portable sequencers suggests that it is possible to identify variants within 48 hours of a person arriving in India and testing positive.

"If the samples are shipped to regional sequencing labs and then sequenced with the next batch, such time would be approximately one week or more. Sequencing at the airport could thus save as much as five days of potential transmission, reducing the spread of the imported variant strains," it added.

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