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ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has started to conduct a sequencing test to identify new COVID 19 variants in the country, a health expert said, after some new variants of the virus have been identified in other parts of the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 105,428 SARS-CoV-2 sequences have been sent to all the countries between December 2 to January 2. Among these, 103 723 sequences were the Omicron variant of concern (VOC), accounting for 98.4% of sequences reported globally in the past 30 days.
“We have started a sequencing test in the country from January 10 and the results of the test will be ready by January 20,” Chandima Jeewandara, Director of the Allergy, Immunology and Cell Biology Unit of the Faculty of Medicine told EconomyNext.
“We will be sharing our data with the Ministry of Health”.
Meanwhile, the Epidemiology Unit at the Ministry of Health said it will intensify the sequencing test it has been already doing to identify new patients.
“So far we have not detected any new variants in Sri Lanka yet,” Samitha Ginige, the Chief Epidemiologist at the Health Ministry told EconomyNext on Tuesday.
The WHO in its weekly Epidemiology update said the BA.5 and its descendent lineages are still dominant globally, accounting for 63.7 percent of sequences as of week 50 (December 12-18, 2022), even though their prevalence is decreasing.
According to WHO report, at the global level, six variants currently under monitoring account for 74.4 percent of prevalence as of week 50 and have replaced the former BA.5 descendent lineages.
WHO said that more than 3 million new cases and 10 000 deaths have been reported in the between December 26, 2022 to January 1, 2023.
“This represents a reduction in weekly cases and deaths of 22 percent and 12 percent respectively,” WHO said.
“However, those trends need to be interpreted considering the reduction in testing and delays in reporting in many countries during the year-end holiday season.”
“Therefore, data presented in this report, especially for the most recent week, are incomplete and the decreasing trends should be interpreted in that context as they may change with updated information provided following the holiday period”. (Colombo/ Jan 10/2023)