Wednesday, 19 June, 2024

Nepal conducting gene sequencing, no Omicron variant detected so far


Kathmandu, Nov. 29: Nepal is stepping up to detect the new variant, “Omicron virus,” via gene sequencing in positive cases of SARS-CoV-2. Cases of the Omicron variant virus have not been detected in the country so far.

According to Rajesh Kumar Gupta, Information Officer (IO) at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), gene sequencing is used to find whether there are mutations of a new variant from the SARS-CoV-2. 

“We are performing the gene sequencing in the positive cases of Coronavirus infection across the country, but, no cases of Omicron variant, have been detected so far in Nepal. Some samples are sent to WHO collaborating Center as well”, said Gupta.

The Omicron variant was detected in Africa on November 24, since then, cases of such variants have been surging in African countries and bordering countries, because of which many countries have slapped the travel restrictions to Africa. Nepal has also banned the on-arrival visa to African nationals to avoid the spread of the virus in Nepal.

According to information officer Gupta, gene sequencing is used to test the genetic makeup of the virus that is protein spike and amino acid. Similarly, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests examine the presence of the coronavirus genes in the body, and gene sequencing studies the genetic makeup of the virus.

Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku said that SARS-CoV-2 keeps on mutating. Generally, the mutation does not affect much, but some mutations are more contagious and aggressive. The new Omicron variant has spiked the Coronavirus infection rate in Africa, due to which, it is speculated that it is more contagious.  

“However, COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness against the virus infection and its nature is yet to be affirmed." He added. He suggested that abiding by the health safety standards and being vigilant as the chances of reoccurrence of SARS-CoV-2 are high.