RCDC gene sequences first batch of 15 RT-PCR samples for Omicron

The Royal Centre for Disease Control (RCDC) has taken 15 RT-PCR samples for gene sequencing from the COVID-19 positive patients coming back from Kolkata, foreign workers and people coming from abroad. All the samples have tested negative for the Omicron variant.

The Head of RCDC, also a TAG member, Dr Sonam Wangchuk, said after the installation of a genome-sequencing machine earlier this month, more than 15 samples have been tested so far.

He said gene sequencing is not done on a regular basis because there has to be an adequate number of RT-PCR samples. A minimum of 15 RT-PCR samples is required for the testing process to be cost effective.

In order to achieve the targeted result, the samples are tested in the machine for three days. Most countries around the world do not conduct genome sequencing on a regular basis, until and unless there is reason to do so.

Dr Sonam Wangchuk also said testing one or two samples every day is not recommended and epidemiologically all the positive cases are detected from the quarantine centers, and further added, “We are delaying the testing for one or two weeks to get the adequate samples.”

Gene sequencing cannot be done on just any positive RT-PCR sample, but only the positive RT-PCR sample containing a high viral load.

However, if the positive cases are detected from the community then genome testing will be done to find out if the COVID-19 is caused by the Delta variant or the Omicron variant.

RCDC is diligently collecting more samples from the positive COVID-19 patients in quarantine.  Meanwhile, all travellers arriving in the country are tested with RT-PCR test kit and minimum two tests are done on them. Those people traveling from high risk to low risk dzongkhags are kept in the seven-day quarantine, and are tested using RT-PCR at the end of the 7-day period.

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