AMU Sends Covid-19 Samples to Delhi for Viral Genome Sequencing After Deaths of Teachers

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Second wave of novel coronavirus has created havoc in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh as 17 working professors of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have died due to Covid-19 in the past 18 days. Some retired professors and their family members were also found infected. Now to study the severity of infection and its suspected new variant, few samples collected at the ICMR approved Covid-19 testing laboratory of the Department of Microbiology, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College in AMU were sent for viral genome sequencing to the CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in Delhi.

These samples were sent after AMU Vice-Chancellor Tariq Mansoor on Sunday wrote to ICMR Director General Professor Balram Bhargava, urging him to study the infection variant circulating rapidly around the university campus area.

“This is to bring into your notice that 16 AMU faculty members, a number of retired teachers and employees in other categories, who were living in the university campus and adjoining localities have succumbed to Covid-19. This is giving rise to a suspicion that a particular viral variant may be circulating in the Civil Lines area of Aligarh in which AMU and many adjoining localities are situated,” the VC said in the letter.

“I request you to instruct the concerned section/department of the ICMR to perform analysis of Covid-19 samples sent from our lab to investigate for any particular viral variants of Covid-19 virus circulating in Aligarh, which may be giving rise to greater severity of the disease, so that we may consider other epidemiological links and measures to control the same as per advice and recommendations,” he urged.

Professor Shakeel Samdani, Dean of Law Faculty in AMU, who was undergoing treatment at AMU’s Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College, succumbed on Friday due to the Covid-19 infection, taking the toll to 17.

Expressing concerns over the same, AMU Public Relations Officer Omar Peerzada told News18, “The University is deeply concerned with the death of its faculty members, including retired teachers and other employees. Massive vaccination drive is underway at AMU. The Vice-chancellor has appealed everyone to get themselves vaccinated as priority and follow all Covid-19 protocols.”

Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College Principal Shahid Ali Siddiqui had told media persons that 25 doctors at the hospital there tested positive for Covid-19 in the past fortnight. Currently, only three doctors are under treatment as others have recovered from the infection, he said.

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