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Amid concern over the detection of a mutated and more infectious strain of COVID-19 in the country, the Tripura government has decided to strengthen the infrastructure of laboratories where coronavirus tests are being conducted, a minister said.

The health department has already initiated a process to procure new equipment which would be used to detect the mutated coronavirus strain, state education minister and spokesperson of the government Ratanlal Nath said.

“All precautionary measures have been in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state. We have decided to purchase machines for genetic analysis. The women”s hostel of Panchayati Raj Training Institute (PRTI) has been earmarked as a quarantine centre for treatment of those infected with the new variant of coronavirus,” he said.

All international passengers, who arrived in India from December 9 to 22 and tested positive for COVID-19, will be subjected to genome sequencing as part of the Centre”s strategy to detect the new coronavirus strain that has emerged in the United Kingdom recently.

One of five travellers from the UK, who arrived here a few days ago, has tested positive for COVID-19, the minister said.

“The swab samples of the UK returnee were sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune to ascertain whether the patient has contracted the new strain of coronavirus,” he said.

According to the minister, RT-PCR tests for all international passengers have been made mandatory.

The government has started a training programme for around 44,521 health workers to impart knowledge of handling COVID-19 vaccines ahead of its roll-out, Nath said on Wednesday.

Overall nine vaccine storage facilities and 145 cold chain points are being set up in the state, he said.

The COVID-19 tally in Tripura was at 33,258 on Wednesday, while the death toll reached 382.

At least 32,712 people have been cured of the disease so far, and the number of active cases in the state was at 141. PTI

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