Nepal sends 750 samples to UK for gene sequencing

The Nepal government has sounded alert against the possible spread of omicron variant.

Nepal on Sunday sent some 750 samples for gene sequencing to the UK to find out whether the new omicron variant of the coronavirus has entered the country. The new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, first detected in South Africa this week, was on Friday designated as a “Variant of Concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which named it omicron. A “variant of concern” is the WHO’s top category of worrying COVID-19 strains.

“Samples have been sent for gene sequencing regularly from Nepal. But, this time a little more samples are sent to see whether the new variant has arrived here, as there is much fear about it,” Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, deputy spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population told journalists. He said some samples have been put for laboratory tests at the Teku-based Central Laboratory and information about the status of the new variant in Nepal will be known after the report arrives.

The Nepal government has sounded alert against the possible spread of omicron variant. “We have started vigilance and test of people entering Nepal from land as well as air routes,” said Adhikari, adding that instructions have been given to establish health desks at air and land entry points.

As per the new arrangement, everyone entering Nepal from any foreign country will compulsorily require to submit a PCR negative report, he pointed out.

Nepal recorded 158 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 342 recoveries and two deaths, according to the latest information provided by the Ministry of Health and Population.

As many as 8,918 samples were tested for COVID-19 on the same day. Of them, 154 PCR and four antigen tests turned out to be positive for the deadly virus.

There are currently 7,170 active cases of COVID-19 across the country. So far, 11,523 people have died from the virus across the country.

Omicron variant was first reported to the WHO from South Africa on November 24, and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

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