At least three students from Africa studying at Dibrugarh University in Assam have tested positive for COVID-19, and their samples have been sent for whole genome sequencing, officials were quoted in media reports.
Two samples tested positive for the Omicron strain in a kit developed by the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC), NE of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in Dibrugarh, while the third result is awaited.
“After the samples tested Omicron positive in our kit on Tuesday (December 28), we then carried out ‘targeted sequencing’, which confirmed the test results,” an ICMR source was quoted as saying by PTI.
The samples have been sent to the CSIR-North East Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) in Jorhat for whole genome sequencing.
Dibrugarh University International Affairs Executive Officer Arinjit Hazarika said an M Com student from Comoros recently returned from his country and tested positive for COVID-19.
“His two roommates, hailing from Nigeria and Lesotho, in the international hostel also tested positive for COVID-19, and the trio was isolated in the hostel itself, which houses 22 foreign students,” he said.
The ICMR source said that the students from Comoros and Lesotho tested positive for Omicron in their kit.
On December 26, a 57-year-old man returning from Nigeria, his four family members and their domestic help tested Omicron positive in the RMRC kit, and their samples were sent for whole genome sequencing, the results of which are awaited.
The RMRC kit can detect the Omicron strain in just two hours. The development is significant as a minimum of 36 hours is required for targeted sequencing and 4-5 days for whole genome sequencing to detect the variant.