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Aussie scientists develop method to cut time to trace virus source

SYDNEY : Australian scientists said yesterday they had developed a rapid genome sequencing method that would cut to within four hours the time taken to trace the source of coronavirus cases, helping to quickly contain any future outbreaks.

Genome sequencing can help scientists monitor small changes in the virus at a national or international scale to understand how it is spreading and provide insight into how different cases are linked.

"When a new 'mystery' coronavirus case is identified, every minute counts," Dr Ira Deveson, scientist at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, said in a report, prepared in collaboration with the University of New South Wales.

Genomic testing helps track the source of mystery cases, the ones whose source of infection remains unknown. But results often take more than 24 hours now.

The coronavirus genome is about 30,000 letters long, but tiny compared with the three billion letters that make up the DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, of the human genome. - REUTERS

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