Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has decided to send coronavirus samples from the state to the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) for genome sequencing, an official order has said. Samples of 25 COVID-19 patients from each district will be sent every week to the institute, said a Government Resolution (GR) issued on Thursday.

It also informed that “double mutation” in the virus that has been found in the country was detected in the samples from Yavatmal and Amravati. Dr. Pradeep Vyas, Principal Secretary, Public Health, issued a notification on the MoU between the state government and CSIR-IGIB on Thursday. Such an initiative was necessitated as the new mutant strains of coronavirus need immediate and effective attention. Early detection will be crucial to stopping the spread of new mutants in the state.

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State Covid TaskForce member Dr. Shashank Joshi, who was engaged in a series of discussions in this connection, said, “We need to do district-wise genome mapping and clinically correlate if there are any variants of concern in each district of Maharashtra. So, jointly, the Maharashtra government and the CSIR will systematically study this under a research programme.” He further added that IGIB DG Dr. Anurag Agarwal and CSIR DG Dr. Shekhar Mande would ensure a systematic study.

The Kerala government had earlier roped in the IGIB, affiliated to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), for genome sequencing, the GR noted. The study will be conducted in three rounds over three months at an estimated cost of ₹ 1.62 crores which would be met from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Maharashtra is witnessing a rapid increase in Coronavirus cases and is expected to touch 10.25 lakh by May 11, from the present 6,70,301.