Punjab is set to become the first province in the country to acquire a genome sequencing machine for the purpose of identifying the new strains of the coronavirus.
Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar approved funding of Rs50 million for the provincial health department earlier today to place an order for genetic sequencing technology.
“Punjab will be the first province to buy a gene sequencing machine,” said Captain (r) Muhammad Usman Younis, secretary of the primary and secondary healthcare department, in a press statement.
According to the statement, the machine will enable investigation into what variants of the virus are responsible for the second wave of the pandemic.
Prior to this, only the Islamabad-based National Institute of Health had a gene sequencing machine and samples collected from positive patients in Punjab had to be sent to the federal laboratory for a reading. Therefore, this development marks a significant step forward for the province’s COVID-19 strategy.
The new coronavirus strains were first detected in the UK, South Africa, and Brazil and they have been responsible for a new wave of cases that has compelled the World Health Organization (WHO) to continue to emphasize the imposition of standard operating procedures across the world.
The global health organization has also urged countries to ramp up developments in genome sequencing technology to help combat the new variants.
Last month, the Sindh health department detected the new variant of the coronavirus in three passengers entering the country from the UK.
While Punjab has till now not detected any mutations of the virus, Younis says that the provincial health department has already started procurement of the gene sequencing machine.