A number of countries are using genomics to supplement efforts to both trace COVID-19 cases and try to prevent additional waves of the outbreak, Nature News writes.
It adds that a team from the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne has sequenced the genomes of about three-quarters of all the cases in the state of Victoria. This has enabled them to, for instance, determine whether a healthcare worker contracted SARS-CoV-2 from a patient or socially, a scenario that contract tracking couldn't resolve, it says.
Having these viral sequences in hand can also help scientists monitor new disease hotspots that emerge as restrictions are lifted, Nature News adds. They'll be able to tell, it writes, if new cases came in from another region, and have better surveillance in place when international travel picks up again.
However, this approach has largely been adopted in wealthy nations, and Australian National University's Meru Sheel tells Nature News that she'd like to see genomics adopted as an epidemiological tool to in other parts of the world as well.