nakra logo

One Laboratory Already Functioning In Patiala

Chandigarh: Even as the number of Covid-19 cases has dropped drastically in the recent months, the Punjab government is further ramping up sentinel surveillance for early detection of genomic variants by setting up two more whole-genome sequencing laboratories in the state.

Whole genome sequencing is considered as a key component of public health efforts as it helps experts in understanding of how the virus spreads and evolves.

Punjab already has a genome sequencing laboratory in Patiala Medical College, which can analyse over 100 samples in one go while the process of setting up a laboratory in Amritsar Medical College is over and is expected to start operating shortly. In addition to that, a third lab is being set up at Faridkot Medical College.

Once operational, Punjab will have three state government-owned genome sequencing labs, the highest in the country.

In Punjab, which has been one of the worst-hit states by the pandemic, different variants namely Alpha, Delta, Omicron and their sub-variants have been detected in the state. At the Patiala lab, as many as 2,132 samples have been analysed of which variants of concern have been found in 1,820 samples. Omicron was found in 1,229 samples while 561 samples were tested positive for the Delta variant. As many as 25 other variants B.1 and B.1.1 and five unassigned variants were found. A total of 308 samples were rejected as poor samples. RT-PCR positive samples from government and private hospitals having less than 25 cycle threshold (CT) value are accepted for genome sequencing while the rest are rejected. CT value refers to the number of cycles after which the virus can be detected.

Before setting up its lab at Government Medical College in Patiala, the state was sending positive samples to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in Delhi, which took more than a month to provide confirmation of new variants, hindering the containment measures.

Punjab Covid-19 nodal officer Dr Rajesh Bhaskar maintained that the health depart ment will continue to take preventive measures and ramp up the existing facilities as per re quirement till the pandemic shift to an endemic stage in the future. “Once operational, the three labs will push our capability to process over 300 sam. ples for genomic sequencing in one go,” said Dr.Bhaskar.


The steady decline in caseload in recent months has led to a drop in the positivity rate, both daily and weekly. Punjab’s weekly positivity rate, which refers to the percentage of people who are Covid positive out of the total tested, during the past week was below the national average.

The report compiled by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for the October 29- November 4 week pointed out that barring two districts, the weekly positivity rate of all the districts was lower than the national average of 0.82%.

Fazilka had the highest positivity rate of 1.57 followed by Mohali where 0.89% results of the total test returned positive. Fatehgarh Sahib had a positivity rate of 0.74% while 0.73% of samples were found infected in Kapurthala, 0.68% in Amritsar, 0.54% in Patiala and 0.41% in Jalandhar. Zero positivity rate was recorded in Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur.

Leave a Reply