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Genomics for Viral Tracking

British Columbia is making genomics part of its approach to track the virus behind the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, Business in Vancouver reports.

According to the World Health Organization, there are about 78,800 confirmed COVID-19 cases, of which about 1,700 occurred outside China. In Canada, there are nine confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Business in Vancouver reports that the BC Centre for Disease Control has received $150,000 in funding from Genome BC for a six-month pilot study that incorporates genomic analysis into how it is tracking COVID-19 in the province. According to GenomeBC, the project, dubbed Responding to Emerging Serious Pathogen Outbreaks using Next-gen Data: RESPOND, will use Oxford Nanopore and other sequencing platforms

The study's goal is to quickly provide data — within a day or two — on whether a newly infected individual has a strain that has already been identified in another patient in the province or whether it is a new introduction, Business in Vancouver adds.

"So it really helps us understand transmission and that can be really important information when investigating a cluster of cases or trying to understand how an organism is spreading throughout the community," Natalie Prystajecky, a microbiologist at BCCDC, tells it.