Sharmili Mallick

At a time when the entire country has been grappling with the highly transmissible Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-1, the health department in Odisha on Thursday informed the State currently has no data on patients infected by the new strain.

Answering on the status of Omicron infected people (numbers) in the State so far, Public Health Director, Dr Niranjan Mishra said, “The scientists at ILS (Bhubaneswar) who carry out genome sequencing of collected samples have been infected with Covid. Therefore, we do not have any data on Omicron cases in the State at present.”

“Whatever data is available with us are all of earlier cases,” Mishra added.

However, the State has started the trial run of ‘OmiSure’ RT-PCR test kits that will come handy in testing for the new strain, stressed the Public Health Director.

The Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) Bhubaneswar is an autonomous institute of the Ministry of Science and Technology and among the 10 institutes which have been selected by the Centre for genome sequencing of Covid positive cases.

ILS Bhubaneswar is engaged for conducting genome sequencing of samples collected from four states—Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar.

It is worth mentioning here that the State had last detected Omicron cases on January 19 when the ILS had given the data of 145 new cases. Since then, the ILS has not provided any information on the detection of fresh cases of the new strain.

Till January 19, Odisha had reported 347 cases of Omicron.

OmiSure is developed by Tata Medical and Diagnostics Ltd in partnership with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Odisha had placed an order to procure 5 lakh ‘OmiSure’ kits on January 10, becoming the first-ever state in India to buy the kit that would detect the fast-spreading variant.

In the first phase, the state has received 30,000 kits.