Genome sequencing report delays irk travellers stuck in isolation | Goa News

Panaji: The long delays in receiving reports of genome sequencing from a Pune laboratory has been unnerving for foreign returnees, who are currently in isolation at one of two state-run facilities.
It takes on average eight to 10 days for a report to be released, sometimes more. The person whose sample is being tested is thus forced to remain isolated at the centre till the report comes in. The state has two such centres — Cansualim primary health centre and TB hospital, Margao.
A UK traveller, who arrived in Goa on December 14, has been stuck in the isolation facility since, as his genome sequencing report is yet to be received.
“I tested negative on arrival and was permitted to go home, but asked to be in home quarantine,” he said. “Since I felt ill a day later, I went for a test, and the report was positive. That was December 16. I was not asked to go the isolation facility, and I remained in isolation at home. But on the eighth day of my arrival, the health centre tested me again and transferred me to the state facility.”
He has now completed 12 days since testing positive, but he still can’t go home. “I have to return to the UK by mid-January,” he said, adding that he has no symptoms and neither do others sharing the facility, but they’ve only been grounded because of the report delay.
For lack of local testing facilities, the directorate of health services sends samples for genome sequencing to a laboratory in Pune, and tests reports are sometimes delayed for months. It is only after the Omicron scare that it received some reports within 8-10 days. However, over 20 reports are yet to be received.
Dr Nitish Narvekar, a consultant gynaecologist and clinical director of women’s services at King’s College Hospital, London, slammed the directorate of health services over the inordinate delays in receiving genome sequencing reports. Narvekar tested negative, but his son tested positive on arrival, and has been in an isolation facility since. The son is Goa’s first case of the Omicron variant.
Narvekar, who returned to Goa to see his father, who has a heart disease, said that the wait was frustrating, and they were not allowed to leave even as he and his son’s RT-PCR tests have been negative.
Health director Dr Ira Almeida said that they would allow the boy to go after 14 days, and that he will not be asked to undergo a test again.
“We are following the protocol,” Almeida said. The boy has been at the isolation facility since December 17. Narvekar asked what protocol is being followed by the Goa health services, and also complained of lack of adequate facilities at the centre.
Wards are unisex, and children are kept along with adults, he said. “Three wards have a common toilet. Tea is served in the morning, but no meals are provided,” he said.
Almeida said that they do provide basic food, but travellers have been given the option of getting food of their choice.
The directorate has further activated centres at Aldona and Curchorem for isolation.

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