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Oman’s report on COVID-19 study enters global data

8 Jun 2020

A team of health researchers of Oman has achieved a significant goal when their report on the analysis of the genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus was included in a global data to analyse the behaviour of the virus. 

The researchers from the Ministry of Health, represented by the Central Public Health Laboratory and Sultan Qaboos University, reached their preliminary results after analysing the whole genome sequence of the COVID-19 virus recently. 

The ministry said it was included in the global data that is being developed to collect the strains of the virus from every country in the world, in order to understand how the virus is spreading and its different mutations. 

The researchers of the sultanate analysed 49 viral strains from the first detected cases in the country, the ministry said.  

‘The analysis of this total genomic sequence is important to study the epidemiological situation, and to study how the disease spreads in the sultanate’, it said, adding that this was needed for the public health sector officials to know the interventions required to control the epidemic, reduce its spread, and help determine genetic mutations that may increase the severity of the disease’. 

‘It also serves as a tool that helps in knowing the accuracy of genetic tests by strains, and may contribute effectively to the detection of possible treatments and vaccines through more practical research and in-depth studies’. 

The researchers noted in this study the presence of genetic diversity in the strains prevalent in the sultanate. This was expected due to the multiple sources of the virus, they said, explaining that it was due to the reason that the virus entered the sultanate from more than one country and that ‘it was found that the genetic types that were discovered during the first months were multi-strains and emanating from the strain’. 

‘The main B and belong to sub-categories O, V, L, S, G, RG, HG, and with the spread of the disease locally, it is noted that some strains are dominant, namely G, GH, especially GR, which is responsible for local transport’, the report said. 

The research team includes both Dr Samira bint Hamad al Mahrouqi – Specialist medical laboratories in the Central Public Health Laboratory in the Ministry of Health (MoH) and Dr Fahd bin Mahmoud al Zadjali, Assistant Dean of Scientific Research at Sultan Qaboos University as main researchers for the project, as well as some selected of technologists and Omani doctors in the field of microbiology and infectious diseases from the Ministry of Health and Sultan Qaboos University. 

The preliminary results analysis is the first stage of several phases of this research project, the ministry said, adding that it would be followed by a series of accurate research – the results of which will be announced successively. 

The study will include comparisons between the genetic strains and the clinical and clinical condition of the disease, and its extent related to travel and death, the ministry said. 

Public health laboratories at the Ministry of Health are a national reference centre for diagnosing coronavirus cases, and they were recently approved by the World Health Organization  (WHO) as a reference laboratory for countries in the Eastern Mediterranean Region for tests on novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

The Sultan Qaboos University and Sultan Qaboos University Hospital laboratories have the latest diagnostic and advanced technologies in the field of laboratory examination and genetic sequencing, supported by qualified Omani competencies in this field. 

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