Omicron test for Bangladeshis entering through land ports
The state health department has begun collecting two swab samples each from people who are entering India from Bangladesh through the Petrapole and Ghojadanga land ports to track the possible carriers of the Omicron variant.
The health officials posted at the ports have begun collecting two swab samples each of Bangladeshi nationals according to the protocol prescribed by the Union health ministry.
Bangladesh is one of the countries that have been identified by the Centre as “at risk” nation following the outbreak of the omicron variant of Covid-19.
While one of the two swab samples is being sent for RTPCR test, the other is preserved for carrying out Omicron test in case the person tests Covid positive.
The Omicron variant is identified as more contagious than previous variants and the medical experts apprehend that it can reduce the efficacy of the vaccine against Covid-19. Rajib Sana, medical officer at Sibhati Block Primary Health Centre near Ghojadanga landport in North 24-Parganas, said: “We are scanning everyone entering Indian territory according to a government order and they include general people and drivers associated with export and import. There is no question of complacency. We are collecting two samples. One for immediate RTPCR test and the other for subsequent Omicron test, if required.”
A senior official of the state health department in Calcutta said in case any Bangladeshi entering India tested positive, his swab would be sent for “genomic sequencing” to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG), an endeavour jointly initiated by Union health ministry, department of biotechnology with CSIR and ICMR. This consortium consists of 28 national laboratories that conduct genomic sequencing.
Both in Ghojadanga and Petrapole, the health officials, with support of BSF personnel, are recording all details, including the entrants’ contact number, so that they can be traced in case of reporting Omicron positive.
“The initiative is to record the whereabouts of the people so that they can be easily traced in case of becoming Omicron positive,” Sana
said. In case of Omicron positive, the patient as per the protocol will be sent for institutional quarantine.
Similar initiatives are being taken at Petrapole land port in Bongaon sub division of North 24-Parganas.
"We are in touch with the customs and BSF officials who are guiding us and taking an active role to ensure the dual swab collection and test," said a health official.