covid-19

New Study Sheds Light On How People Gained Weight During COVID-19 Pandemic

Washington [US], April 4 (ANI): A new study has found that more people weighed in as obese during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic than the previous year.

The evidence was presented from a large, nationally representative survey that showed this trend and helped researchers to explain behaviour changes that led to widespread weight gain in 2020. The findings of the study were published in the ‘American Journal Of Preventive Medicine.’

“Previous studies present evidence that intra-pandemic changes in risky dietary and other health-related behaviours are likely to contribute to the rapid rise in body weight during this period. Adults who reported weight gain also reported more frequent snacking and alcohol intake; increased eating in response to sight, smell and stress and decreased physical activity,” explained lead investigator, Brandon J. Restrepo, PhD, US Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, Food Economics Division–Diet, Safety and Health Economics Branch, Washington DC, USA.

Adult obesity in the US was elevated and trending upward prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The analysis of the BRFSS data employed linear regression models that control for age, sex. race/ethnicity, education, household income, marital status, numner of children, survey year indicators and state of residence indicators.

According to the analysis of more than 3.5 million US adults (aged 20 or older) from the 2011-2020 BRFSS, obesity was 3 per cent more prevalent during the year begining March 2020, compared with the 2019 to pre-pandemic 2020 period.

The study also found statistically significant changes among US adults in four obesity-related risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic: exercise participation, sleep duration, alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking.

While exercise participation and sleep duration were higher by 4.4 per cent and 1.5 per cent, respectively, the number of days in which alcohol was consumed was 2.7 per cent higher and cigarette smoking prevalence was lower by 4 per cent. The overall increases in exercise and sleep were not sufficient to offset the impact of other behaviors, resulting in an average 0.6 per cent rise in body mass index during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although smoking cessation is a healthy step, it is known to cause some weight gain.

“Our results, which are broadly consistent with what prior studies have found using smaller and less representative samples, contribute additional insights that can serve to inform policymakers about the state of the US adult obesity epidemic and obesity-related risk factors,” noted Dr. Restrepo.

“Because obesity affects some adults more than others, it would be helpful to further explore the changes in the rates of adult obesity by demographic subgroup and socioeconomic status,” he added.

Hong Kong Film Festival Postponed Due To COVID Concerns

Hong Kong, February 23 (ANI): The Hong Kong International Film Festival, scheduled for the end of March, has been postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

As per Variety, this decision follows the Hong Kong government’s moves earlier this week to extend social distancing measures until April 20, 2022. Cinemas throughout the territory have been closed on government orders since January 7. The 12-day 46th edition of HKIFF had been set for March 31- April 11. Organizers will aim to reschedule the festival and Cine Fan screenings to a date later this year.

Sources close to the festival organizers told Variety that prior to the government announcement, they had succeeded in locking in 90 per cent of the program.

The FilMart rights market and Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum (HAF), which also normally operate in March, had both long ago opted for an online-only format for 2022. FilMart will run March 14-17.

The HKIFF cancellation is the second time in three years that the pandemic has forced the festival to cancel its scheduled March event. In 2021, when Hong Kong had very low levels of local coronavirus transmission, the festival was able to go ahead as a hybrid with 190 films presented at online and in-person screenings, albeit with few foreign visitors.

In pursuit of a so-called dynamic zero-COVID policy, the territory has largely self-isolated behind tough border restrictions and prolonged quarantine periods. And it had largely succeeded in taming earlier waves of the disease.

But, since the beginning of this year, the omicron variant of the disease was able to overcome these barriers and has sparked by far the territory’s most severe disease conditions, threatening the lives of many senior citizens who have been reluctant to be vaccinated.

The city government on Tuesday dialled up its measures to defeat the virus, ordering three mandatory PCR tests for all residents from March, the extension of social distancing measures, school closures and confirmation of its planned vaccine pass system.

SC directs appointment of nodal officer to facilitate payment of COVID-19 ex-gratia compensation

New Delhi [India], (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states governments and Union Territories to appoint dedicated nodal officers, not below the rank of Deputy Secretary in the Chief Minister’s Secretariat, to coordinate with the member secretary of the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA) to facilitate payment of ex-gratia compensation to family members of COVID-19 victims.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and BV Nagarathna said the nodal officer to ensure all eligible claimants apply for ex-gratia compensation. It also directed the state governments to give full particulars like name, address and death certificate to the concerned SLSA, and also complete details with respect to orphans, within one week from today, and failure to do so would entail serious consequences.
The top court said that the endeavour of legal services authority would be to reach those sufferers or victims who have yet not been approached for whatever reasons.
“We also direct the concerned state governments to appoint a dedicated officer, not below the rank of deputy secretary in Chief Minister Secretariat, who shall be in constant touch with the member secretary of the state legal service authority so that he may coordinate with him and see to it that the applications are received from eligible persons. The endeavour of state legal services authorities would be to reach those victims who have not yet approached for whatever reason,” the bench stated in its order.
It also expressed displeasure that the information received from the state legal services authorities, none of the state governments has provided the requisite particulars, but only the statistics which do not reflect the ground realities.
On January 19, the bench had directed the state governments to share particulars with respect to the COVID-19 deaths registered with it and the particulars of the application received and disbursals made along with the particulars uploaded in the Bal Swaraj Portal.
During the hearing today, the bench said that being a welfare State, the payment of ex-gratia compensation is not a charity, but the duty of the state governments, which needs to be disbursed at the earliest.
It reiterated that applications seeking compensation should not be rejected on technical grounds and if any technical glitch is found, the states concerned should give them the opportunity to cure defects as the ultimate goal of the welfare state is to provide some solace and compensation to victims.
On the previous hearing, the apex court had ordered the states to reach out especially to children orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic and pay compensation to them.
It had told the States that many of these families were economically challenged and they may have been further crippled by the fact that COVID-19 took away their sole breadwinner.
The apex court was hearing a petition filed by lawyer-cum-petitioner, Gaurav Kumar Bansal, seeking an ex-gratia compensation for those family members, who died due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the top court had approved the Centre’s disaster management guidelines on payment of Rs 50,000 ex-gratia compensation to the next kin of those who died of COVID-19 deaths and said the money to be disbursed within 30 days of applying. imagr(instagram)

Over 10.71 cr COVID vaccine doses available with States, UTs

               

New Delhi [India], (ANI): More than 10.71 crore balance and unutilized COVID vaccine doses are still available with the States, Union Territories to be administered, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed on Friday.

The ministry has informed that more than 165.20 crore vaccine doses have been provided to States, Union Territories till date.
“More than 165.20 crore (1,65,20,44,645) vaccine doses have been provided to States/UTs so far through Govt. of India (free of cost channel) and through direct state procurement category. More than 10.71 Cr (10,71,21,576) balance and unutilized COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered,” the ministry informed in its official press release.

The Union Government is committed to accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of COVID-19 vaccination throughout the country. The nationwide COVID-19 vaccination started on January 16, 2021.

The new phase of universalization of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from June 21, 2021. The vaccination drive has been ramped up through availability of more vaccines, advanced visibility of vaccine availability to States and UTs for enabling better planning by them, and streamlining the vaccine supply chain.

As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Government has been supporting the States and UTs by providing them COVID Vaccines free of cost. In the new phase of the universalization of the COVID-19 vaccination drive, the Government will procure and supply (free of cost) 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to States and UTs.

Moreover, the vaccination drive for those between the age group 15-18 was started on January 3, 2022, and for administering the precautionary doses to the healthcare workers, frontline workers and sixty plus individuals then commenced on January 10 this year. image(instagram)

COVID-19: Venezuela Allows Flights With Spain

Caracas [Venezuelan], January 25 (ANI/Sputnik): The Venezuelan government has added Spain to its list of permitted passenger air travel destinations almost two years after the suspension of flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Institute of Civil Aviation (INAC) said in a statement.

“Commercial air travel is only permitted between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and Turkey, Mexico, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Russia, Cuba and Spain,” the regulator said on Twitter.

Flights to Europe were suspended in March 2020 when the first cases of COVID-19 were detected in Venezuela. Since November 2021, the country’s authorities have allowed flights to Panama, Turkey, the Dominican Republic, Iran and Mexico; later Bolivia and Russia were added to the list of destinations.

MoS Shobha Karandlaje: Lockdowns, Curfews Not Required If People Are Disciplined

Chikmagalur (Karnataka) [India], January 22 (ANI): In view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country, Union Minister of State Shobha Karandlaje on Friday said that lockdowns and curfews are not required if people are disciplined.

The Union Minister of State, who was on a personal visit to her hometown here, urged people to adhere to the COVID-19 protocols. “We have to learn to live with COVID-19 at present. We are living in the presence of this virus for the past few months. I know that curfews disturb people’s lives. I believe that lockdown and curfews are not required if people are disciplined. I urge all the people to wear masks and follow the COVID-19 guidelines,” she said while addressing the reporters on Friday.

Speaking to reporters, she said the government and health department should take the opinion of experts on imposing curfews and lockdowns.

Hailing the decision by the Karnataka government to lift the weekend curfews, the minister said that such decisions are taken keeping in interests of autorickshaw drivers, taxi drivers and those involved in hotel businesses.

The Karnataka government on Friday decided to withdraw the weekend curfew in the state.
As per a release from the Chief Minister’s Office, the decision was taken during a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on COVID-19 situation in the state.

However, depending on the hospitalisation trend next week, a suitable decision would be taken at a meeting on whether to reimpose the restrictions, added the release.

On January 4, amid surging COVID-19 cases, the Karnataka government had imposed a weekend curfew in the state for the next two weeks.

During the meeting, it was decided that the night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am will continue be in force. Malls, hotels, bars, clubs and pubs will continue operating at 50 per cent capacity and mandatory double vaccination against COVID-19.

Karnataka on Friday recorded 48,049 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, as per the state health bulletin. The state has recorded 22 Covid related deaths from this virus yesterday.

Vir Das Recovers From Coronavirus, Shares Video

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 20 (ANI): Actor-comedian Vir Das on Thursday said that he has recovered from coronavirus.

Taking to Instagram, Vir uploaded a video of him grooving to ‘I’m Coming Out’ song. In the clip, he also shared a picture of self-kit showing negative result.

“We back. Seriously tho. This thing sucked. Wear a mask, get boosted, take your vitamins, drink snake blood… whatever,” he quipped.

“It was a long two-ish weeks. Still masking around the house. Stay safe,” Vir urged.

Vir tested positive for COVID-19 on January 11.

Meanwhile, on the work front, Vir is reportedly developing a country music comedy series titled ‘Country Eastern’.

Filmmaker Pradeep Raj Dies Due To Covid-19

Filmmaker Pradeep Raj, who had directed Yash in the 2011 film ‘Kiraathaka’, passed away on Thursday morning (20-Jan-2022) due to Covid-19 related issues. Pradeep was 46 years old at the time and is said to have breathed his last around 3 a.m. in a private hospital in Pondicherry – he is, reportedly, survived by his wife and two children.

As per the latest reports, Pradeep Raj had been diabetic for close to fifteen years and contracted the Covid-19 virus a few days ago. However, the filmmaker succumbed to the many health issues around 3 in the morning of January 20th and his final rites, as revealed by his brother Prashanth Raj to the media, will be conducted in Pondicherry sometime during the day.

Pradeep Raj rose to instant fame for making his debut as a director with the Yash starrer ‘Kiraathaka’. The film holds a lot of significance in the ‘K.G.F: Chapter 2’ actor’s career as his first bonafide success and also comes with a distinction of being the 3000th Kannada release. Pradeep Raj has also directed other big stars such as Ganesh and Duniya Vijay in ‘Mr. 420’ and ‘Rajani Kantha’ respectively. According to a few other reports, Pradeep Raj was gearing up to release ‘Kiraathaka 2’ this year.

Shaheer Sheikh’s Father Dies Due To COVID-19

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 20 (ANI): After suffering from a severe COVID-19 infection, actor Shaheer Sheikh’s father passed away.

Actor Aly Goni confirmed the unfortunate news on his Twitter account. “Inna Lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’un. May Allah rest uncle’s soul in peace bhai @Shaheer_S, stay strong bhai,” he tweeted.

Shaheer’s father was on a ventilator. Two days ago only, Shaheer requested everyone to pray for his father’s recovery.

“My dad is on a ventilator, suffering from a severe covid infection… pls keep him in your prayers,” he had written.

Shaheer is best known for his role in the TV show ‘Kuch Rang Pyar Ke Aise Bhi’.

Julia Roberts, George Clooney’s ‘Ticket To Paradise’ Filming Paused Due To COVID-19 Concerns

Washington [US], January 19 (ANI): The filming of Julia Roberts and George Clooney’s romantic comedy ‘Ticket to Paradise’ has been paused due to COVID-19 concerns.

A source close to the Universal Pictures production confirmed to People magazine that filming “has been temporarily suspended” due to the virus, “and will recommence at a later date.” According to Variety, the pause in production is due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the Australian state of Queensland, where the movie was being shot.

Roberts and Clooney have reportedly flown back to the United States for the time being, sources told the outlet.

In ‘Ticket to Paradise’, Roberts and Clooney play a divorced couple who travel to Bali to prevent their daughter from getting married. The two Oscar winners have previously worked together on ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘Money Monster’.

‘Ticket to Paradise’ also stars Kaitlyn Dever and Billie Lourd, who recently opened up on Instagram about working in Australia while mourning the five-year anniversary of mom Carrie Fisher’s death.

The film is being directed by Ol Parker of ‘Mamma Mia’ fame.

The upcoming romantic-comedy is the latest film to get the yellow light as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, joining productions that previously paused due to COVID-19 like ‘Jurassic World: Dominion’, ‘The Batman’ and ‘Mission: Impossible 7’.

Universal had initially scheduled ‘Ticket to Paradise’ to release in theatres on September 30, 2022, but the studio has since moved it to October 21, 2022.

Shaheer Sheikh’s Dad On Ventilator After Contracting COVID-19

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 19 (ANI): The health condition of actor Shaheer Sheikh’s father is critical.

Taking to Twitter, Shaheer informed everyone that his father, who recently tested positive for coronavirus, is currently on ventilator. Shaheer also requested his fans to pray for his father’s recovery.

“My dad is on a ventilator, suffering from a severe covid infection… pls keep him in your prayers,” he tweeted.

After learning about his father’s health, social media users including members from the TV industry showered Shaheer with messages filled with strength.

“Prayers,” actor Vatsal Sheth commented.
“Stay strong Shaheer. He will recover soon,” another one wrote.

Meanwhile, India’s daily COVID-19 infections jumped to 2,82,970 as the country saw a spike after a few days of a marginal dip in the daily tally.

China Enters 40-Day Spring Festival Travel Rush Amid Nationwide COVID-19 Flare-Ups

Beijing [China], January 18 (ANI): The world’s largest human migration, China’s 40-day Chunyun or Spring Festival travel rush, kicked off on Monday amid nationwide COVID-19 flare-ups.

As per Global Times, more than 1.18 billion trips are expected to be made countrywide during the 40-day travel rush. However, due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, great uncertainties exist for this year’s Chunyun. A total of 280 million railway passenger trips are expected during the travel rush, of which the railway system in Beijing is expected to see 8.98 million trips, and about 9.1 million trips were expected to be made in Shanghai railway stations, according to the transportation departments.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said nearly 600,000 passenger flights during the Chunyun period were scheduled, and some 20,000 extra flights were approved to be arranged as well. The country will see about 35 million trips by air, on par with last year’s number.

If an outbreak occurs, railway services would be immediately suspended or reduced, and flights would also be adjusted dynamically in response, according to the latest anti-epidemic policy, reported Global Times.

Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times that this year’s Spring Festival travel rush comes amid sporadic outbreaks, similar to last year.

The huge flow of passengers would certainly increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Affected by the domestic COVID-19 flare-ups, many people couldn’t manage to get back home and decided to stay put.
Municipalities like Beijing and Tianjin, and provinces like Central China’s Henan, East China’s Jiangsu and North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have called on local residents to stay put during the holidays. Many cities said they will offer some cash or coupons for migrant workers, reported Global Times.

China Railway Shanghai Group previously predicted that the week ahead of the Spring Festival and the week after the Lantern Festival could see more concentrated passenger flows, reported Global Times.
Affected by domestic outbreaks, trains to and from affected regions have been suspended or reduced.
Epidemic prevention is still the keyword of this Chunyun. Health codes and masks are essential for taking the public transportation system.

Currently, 10 provinces and regions in China are registering COVID-19 infections, and eight regions in six provinces have detected the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Roddy Ricch Drops Out Of ‘SNL’ Due To COVID-19 Exposure

Washington [US], January 13 (ANI): American rapper Roddy Ricch was scheduled to take the stage as the musical guest of the first ‘Saturday Night Live episode’ of 2022 on January 15.

However, Ricch has dropped out of ‘Saturday Night Live’ this week after a possible COVID exposure. “Due to recent COVID-19 exposure on my team and to keep everyone safe I won’t be able to perform on SNL this weekend,” Ricch wrote on his Instagram Story.

“I’m working with the SNL team to lock in a new date though! LOVE [pray emoji] STAY SAFE,” he added.

According to Variety, the rapper has been replaced by the Jack Antonoff-led band Bleachers for this weekend’s ‘SNL’ episode. ‘West Side Story’ fame Ariana DeBose is set to host the show on Saturday.
Ricch is the third musical guest to pull out of a performance on the show due to COVID-related reasons, all of which vary.

In October of 2020, country music star Morgan Wallen’s scheduled appearance was cancelled by the show after photos emerged on social media of him breaking protocol just days before the show by socialising in Alabama without a mask at a crowded bar and a house party.

He posted an apology soon later, saying he respected the show’s decision and noted that although he had not tested positive, “my actions from this past weekend were pretty short-sighted, and have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams,” he said. The show rescheduled his appearance for several weeks later.

For the final show of the 2021 season in December, Charli XCX’s scheduled performance was called off as the Omicron variant reached alarming levels in New York and ‘SNL’ was forced to stage a dramatically scaled-down version of the show they had prepared.

Lata Mangeshkar Being Treated For COVID-19 & Pneumonia, Will Be Under Observation

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 12 (ANI): Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar will be under constant medical observation for the next 10-12 days as she has been diagnosed not only with COVID-19 but also got pneumonia.

Dr Pratit Samdani, who is treating Lata Mangeshkar at Mumbai’s Breach Candy Hospital, said, “She has both COVID-19 and pneumonia. Due to old age, it will take time to recover properly.” Lata Mangeshkar, 92, was admitted to the ICU of Breach Candy Hospital after she tested positive for COVID-19 a few days ago. She got in touch with one of her staff members, who was also COVID-19 positive.

The singer had been hospitalised in 2019 as well for a serious lung ailment and pneumonia.

Study: COVID-19 Omicron Variant Neutralized By Booster Dose

Washington [US], January 10 (ANI): The new COVID-19 Omicron variant is more transmissible than the Delta variant. However, its biological characteristics are still relatively unknown.

The study about this variant has been published in the ‘Nature Journal’. In South Africa, the Omicron variant replaced the other viruses within a few weeks and led to a sharp increase in the number of cases diagnosed. Analyses in various countries indicate that the doubling time for cases is approximately 2 to 4 days. Omicron has been detected in dozens of countries, including France, and became dominant by the end of 2021.

In a new study supported by the European Union’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), scientists from the Institut Pasteur and the Vaccine Research Institute, in collaboration with KU Leuven (Leuven, Belgium), Orleans Regional Hospital, Hopital Europeen Georges Pompidou (AP-HP) and Inserm, studied the sensitivity of Omicron to antibodies compared with the currently dominant Delta variant.

The aim of the study was to characterize the efficacy of therapeutic antibodies, as well as antibodies developed by individuals previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 or vaccinated, in neutralizing this new variant.

The scientists from KU Leuven isolated the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 from a nasal sample of a 32-year-old woman who developed moderate COVID-19 a few days after returning from Egypt. The isolated virus was immediately sent to scientists at the Institut Pasteur, where therapeutic monoclonal antibodies and serum samples from people who had been vaccinated or previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2 were used to study the sensitivity of the Omicron variant.

The scientists used rapid neutralization assays, developed by the Institut Pasteur’s Virus and Immunity Unit, on the isolated sample of the Omicron virus. This collaborative multidisciplinary effort also involved the Institut Pasteur’s virologists and specialists in the analysis of viral evolution and protein structure, together with teams from Orleans Regional Hospital and Hopital Europeen Georges Pompidou in Paris.

The scientists began by testing nine monoclonal antibodies used in clinical practice or currently in preclinical development. Six antibodies lost all antiviral activity, and the other three were 3 to 80 times less effective against Omicron than against Delta. The antibodies Bamlanivimab/Etesevimab (a combination developed by Lilly), Casirivimab/Imdevimab (a combination developed by Roche and known as Ronapreve), and Regdanvimab (developed by Celtrion) no longer had any antiviral effect against Omicron. The Tixagevimab/Cilgavimab combination (developed by AstraZeneca under the name Evusheld) was 80 times less effective against Omicron than against Delta.

“We demonstrated that this highly transmissible variant has acquired significant resistance to antibodies. Most of the therapeutic monoclonal antibodies currently available against SARS-CoV-2 are inactive,” commented Olivier Schwartz, co-last author of the study and Head of the Virus and Immunity Unit at the Institut Pasteur.

The scientists observed that the blood of patients previously infected with COVID-19, collected up to 12 months after symptoms, and that of individuals who had received two doses of the vaccine, taken five months after vaccination, barely neutralized the Omicron variant. But the sera of individuals who had received a booster dose of Pfizer, analyzed one month after vaccination, remained effective against Omicron.

Five to 31 times more antibodies were nevertheless required to neutralize Omicron, compared with Delta, in cell culture assays. These results help shed light on the continued efficacy of vaccines in protecting against severe forms of the disease.

“We now need to study the length of protection of the booster dose. The vaccines probably become less effective in offering protection against contracting the virus, but they should continue to protect against severe forms,” explained Olivier Schwartz.

“This study shows that the Omicron variant hampers the effectiveness of vaccines and monoclonal antibodies, but it also demonstrates the ability of European scientists to work together to identify challenges and potential solutions. While KU Leuven was able to describe the first case of Omicron infection in Europe using the Belgian genome surveillance system, our collaboration with the Institut Pasteur in Paris enabled us to carry out this study in record time. There is still a great deal of work to do, but thanks to the support of the European Union’s Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), we have clearly now reached a point where scientists from the best centers can work in synergy and move towards a better understanding and more effective management of the pandemic,” commented Emmanuel Andre, co-last author of the study, a Professor of Medicine at KU Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) and Head of the National Reference Laboratory and the genome surveillance network for COVID-19 in Belgium.

The scientists concluded that the many mutations in the spike protein of the Omicron variant enabled it to largely evade the immune response. Ongoing research is being conducted to determine why this variant is more transmissible from one individual to the next and to analyze the long-term effectiveness of a booster dose.

Italy: New Restrictions For Those Not Vaccinated Against Covid-19

On Monday, several new restrictions came into place in Italy for those not vaccinated against Covid-19.

In order to visit restaurants, hotels, trade fairs, ski lifts, local or long-distance trains and buses, you must now present a proof of vaccination against or recent recovery from Covid-19. Previously, a negative test result was also accepted.

The new rule also applies to team sports, so all professional soccer players must be vaccinated in order to play.

EU tourists can use the QR codes of their vaccination certificates to get around the country.

Italy has seen a spike in infections recently, with the latest figures showing 1,669 new cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days.

Here are the latest major developments on coronavirus from around the world:

Africa

School pupils in Uganda returned to the classroom, in some cases for the first time in nearly two years.

In the world’s longest disruption to in-person learning, schools across the country have been partially or completely shut down across the country since March 2020. Local experts and teachers have warned, however, that the long pause has proven a permanent end to the education of many students who have begun working in the meantime to help support their families.

Asia

A massive booster campaign has begun in India, with frontline workers and inhabitants over 60 being first in line to get more doses of Covid-19 vaccines.

India has recently reported a surge in cases, particularly amongst health care personnel and essential workers such as police.

Europe

Sajid Javid, health minister of the United Kingdom, has ordered the country’s private health care providers to strike a deal with the National Health Service to provide crucial treatments such as cancer surgeries should the NHS become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.

Hospitalizations for Covid-19 are at their highest in the UK since last February, and ill personnel have meant staffing shortages at many health care facilities.

Joe Biden Announces End To Covid-19 Related Southern Africa Travel Ban

US President Joe Biden has ended the COVID-19 related travel restriction imposed last month on the eight southern African nations due to the spread of coronavirus variant Omicron.

“In light of these changed circumstances, and based on the recommendation of the CDC, I have determined that it is in the interests of the United States to revoke Proclamation 10315. The travel restrictions imposed by that proclamation are no longer necessary to protect the public health,” said Biden in his presidential proclamation on Tuesday. This proclamation is effective at 12:01 am eastern standard time on December 31. Having learned more about the Omicron variant in the past several weeks, the CDC now recommends lifting the travel restrictions, read the proclamation.

“Importantly, scientific experts have determined that people who are vaccinated against COVID-19 are protected against severe disease and hospitalization from the Omicron variant. Moreover, the Omicron variant has now spread to more than 100 countries, and it is prevalent in the United States,” proclamation added.

In particular, the CDC has shortened the timeline for required pre-departure COVID-19 testing for fully vaccinated travellers from no more than 3 days prior to travel to no more than 1 day, said Biden.

As a result, international air travellers to the United States from all countries, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, must take a COVID-19 test within 1 day of departure and show a negative test result before they board a flight to the United States, said the Proclamation. That requirement has strengthened the already stringent international travel protocols that my Administration has imposed, including requirements for noncitizens to be fully vaccinated, subject to limited exceptions, and for travellers to wear face masks on commercial conveyances and at United States transportation hubs, it added.

Bollywood Celebrities Who Fought COVID-19 In 2021

COVID-19 has infected and impacted almost everyone in the country – both physically and mentally.
While movies are often based in a world of fiction, our Bollywood celebrities are not removed from the harsh reality of the pandemic. Many of them got infected with the deadly virus this year, especially during the second wave, which lasted roughly between March to May. As the year 2021 is coming to an end, here is a look back at several Bollywood celebrities who were either home-quarantined or hospitalised due to coronavirus this year.

1. RANBIR KAPOOR

Actor Ranbir Kapoor was one of the early stars who got infected with the deadly disease during the second wave. His mother and veteran star Neetu Kapoor revealed on March 9, through her social media handle, that her son had tested positive and was on medication.

Neetu took to her Instagram handle and wrote, “Thank you for your concern and your good wishes. Ranbir has tested positive for Covid-19. He is on medication and recovering well.”

Ranbir had been in home quarantine, as per Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) rules. “He is in self-quarantine at home and following all precautions,” she wrote.

Ranbir’s girlfriend and actor Alia Bhatt’s diagnosis came a few days after he had recovered and tested negative for the disease.

2. ALIA BHATT

Alia Bhatt disclosed through her social media on April 2, that she had tested positive and had “immediately isolated” herself under home quarantine.

“Grateful for all your love and support. Please stay safe and take care,” the actor shared on her Instagram Story.

3. AKSHAY KUMAR

Akshay Kumar revealed on social media on April 4 that he had tested positive for COVID-19. He was hospitalised the next day as a “precautionary measure”.

The actor took to his Twitter handle and wrote, “Thank you, everyone, for all your warm wishes and prayers, they seem to be working. I am doing fine, but as a precautionary measure under medical advice, I have been hospitalised. I hope to be back home soon. Take care.”

A week later, Bollywood’s Khiladi returned home from the hospital, on April 12.

4. VICKY KAUSHAL

Vicky Kaushal informed his fans via social media on April 5, that he too had contracted the disease and urged all those who came in contact with him to get tested.

The ‘Sardar Udham’ actor took to his Instagram handle and shared a statement informing fans about his health condition.

Vicky wrote, “In spite of all care and precautions, unfortunately, I have tested positive for COVID-19. Following all essential protocols, I am under home quarantine, taking medication as prescribed by my doctor.”

5. KATRINA KAIF

A day after Vicky Kaushal announced that he had tested positive, his wife and actor Katrina Kaif, with whom he was rumoured to be dating back then, shared that she too had contracted the virus.

On April 6, the ‘Sooryavanshi’ star confirmed the news on her Instagram Story.

“I have tested positive for Covid-19. Have immediately isolated myself and will be under home quarantine. I’m following all safety protocols under the advice of my doctors,” read Katrina’s statement.

Urging fans to be safe amid the coronavirus pandemic, she added, “Requesting everyone who came in contact with me to get tested immediately too. Grateful for all your love and support. Please stay safe and take care.”

6. SONU SOOD

On April 17, actor Sonu Sood announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have already quarantined myself and taking utmost care but don’t worry this gives me ample time to solve your problems, remember I am always there for you all,” he assured in his social media post.
Since the pandemic started, Sonu has been active in helping to arrange medicines for patients and has aided in transportation for stranded migrant workers.

The actor also launched ‘Sanjeevani – A Shot of Life’, an initiative to encourage people to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus and raise awareness about the inoculation drive in the country.

7. SHILPA SHETTY

Shilpa Shetty revealed on May 7 that almost her entire household had been infected by COVID.

Shilpa took to her Instagram handle and shared a note that read, “The last 10 days have been difficult for us as a family. My parents-in-law tested positive for Covid-19, followed by Samisha, Viaan-Raj, my Mom, and lastly, Raj.”

It further continued, “By God’s grace, everyone is on the road to recovery. My tests came back negative.”
She also talked about staying positive mentally during the pandemic, adding, “Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers. Please mask up, sanitise, stay safe; and whether Covid positive or not… still stay positive, mentally.”

8. Farah Khan

Filmmaker and choreographer Farah Khan Kunder shared on September 1 that she had tested positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated.

The ‘Main Hoon Na’ director took to her Instagram Story and revealed that she had contracted the virus somehow, even though she was working with “mostly double vaxxed people.”

“I wonder if this happened coz I didn’t put my “kaala teeka”…Despite being double vaccinated, and working with mostly double vaxxed people.. I’ve still managed to test positive for covid.. I’ve already informed everyone I came in contact with, to get tested. However, if I have forgotten someone (because of old age n fading memory) pls test urself. Hoping to recover soon,” Farah wrote.

Before contracting the deadly infection, Farah had been shooting for the popular ‘Zee Comedy Show’.

9. URMILA MATONDKAR

Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar contracted COVID-19 in October.

Urmila took to Twitter to update her followers about her diagnosis on October 31. She also requested all those that have come in contact with her to get themselves tested.

“I’ve tested positive for #COVID19. I’m fine n have isolated myself in home quarantine.”

Talking about the upcoming Diwali festivities back then, she added, “Also humbly request all you lovely people to take care of yourselves during the Diwali festivities.”

10. KAREENA KAPOOR KHAN

Actor Kareena Kapoor Khan tested positive for the deadly virus on December 13 after she attended a party at filmmaker Karan Johar’s house. Kareena was immediately home quarantined after her COVID-19 report came positive.

Bebo’s close friend Amrita Arora, Sohail Khan’s wife designer Seema Khan and Sanjay Kapoor’s wife Maheep Kapoor, who were reported to be present at the same get-together, also tested positive for COVID-19. Maheep’s daughter Shanaya Kapoor also caught the disease. However, Karan’s test results came out negative.

After announcing that she has recovered from the virus, Kareena celebrated Christmas with her family on December 25, 2021.

Several other celebrities including Siddhant Chaturvedi, Manoj Bajpayee, Aamir Khan, Paresh Rawal, Kartik Aaryan, Rohit Saraf and others were infected with the virus in 2021.

However, with grit and appropriate measures, these stars fought the disease and regained their health to entertain us once again through their films filled with drama, comedy, romance, suspense and whatnot!
Here’s hoping for a healthy and COVID-free B-town in 2022.

Study: Immune Memory Becomes Less Durable Post Severe COVID

Infection-fighting B cells retain better memory of the coronavirus spike protein in patients who recover from less-severe cases of COVID-19 than in those recovering from severe COVID-19, according to scientists from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

The study has been published in the ‘PLOS ONE Journal’. Evelien Bunnik, PhD, corresponding author of the paper said that the results hint of subtle differences in the quality of immune response based on COVID-19 severity. Dr. Bunnik is an assistant professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the health science center, also referred to as UT Health San Antonio.

The study focused on memory B cells that reacted against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. Blood samples were analyzed one month after symptom onset and five months post-onset. After one month, a significant proportion of spike-specific B cells were active.

However, samples from eight individuals who recovered from less-severe disease showed increased expression of markers associated with durable B cell memory as compared to individuals who recovered from severe disease, the authors wrote. The markers included T-bet and FcRL5.

T-bet-positive, spike-specific B cells nearly disappeared from the blood samples five months post-symptom onset, the authors noted. Overall, a more dysfunctional B cell response is seen in severe disease cases, they wrote.

Non-severe cases were defined as not requiring supplemental oxygen or invasive ventilation, while severe cases needed invasive mechanical ventilation or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

“The definition of severe disease was made based on the need for mechanical ventilation or ECMO, because this distinguishes the most critical patients, who are the most likely to develop impaired immune responses,” said study senior author Thomas Patterson, MD, professor and chief of infectious diseases at UT Health San Antonio who leads COVID-19 care at clinical partner University Health.

Study participants were enrolled in the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial (ACTT)-1 or ACTT-2 clinical trials. Samples were from University Health patients co-enrolled in the UT Health San Antonio COVID-19 Repository.

“The increased percentage of B cells associated with long-lived immunity in non-severe COVID-19 patients may have consequences for long-term immunity against SARS-CoV-2 re-infection or severity of the resulting disease,” the authors wrote.

Critics Choice Awards Ceremony Postponed Amid Covid-19 Concerns

As the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, the in-person ceremony for the 2022 Critics Choice Awards has been postponed. This follows several other January events that have recently been delayed or cancelled.

As per People magazine, the Critics Choice Association announced the news on Wednesday stating that the televised awards show, which was set to take place in Los Angeles, will no longer take place on January 9. “After thoughtful consideration and candid conversations with our partners at The CW and TBS, we have collectively come to the conclusion that the prudent and responsible decision at this point is to postpone the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards, originally slated for January 9, 2022,” the statement read.

“We are in regular communication with LA County Public Health officials, and we are currently working diligently to find a new date during the upcoming awards season in which to host our annual gala in-person with everyone’s safety and health remaining our top priority. We will be sharing additional details with our friends and colleagues throughout the entertainment industry as soon as we can,” the statement continued.

The winners were scheduled to be announced during the award ceremony, which was to be hosted by Taye Diggs and Nicole Byer.

‘Belfast’ and ‘West Side Story’ lead the nominations with 11 each while ‘Dune’ and ‘The Power of the Dog’ followed up with 10 each. For television, ‘Succession’, ‘Mare of Easttown’ and ‘Evil’ emerged as leading nominees.

The decision to postpone the award show came one day after the association said it planned to continue with an in-person ceremony despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases.

Recently, the CDC expanded its vaccine booster recommendations for those in the US following the arrival of the Omicron variant in North America.

The spread of the variant “further emphasizes the importance of vaccination, boosters, and prevention efforts needed to protect against COVID-19,” the CDC said.

“Early data from South Africa suggest increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, and scientists in the United States and around the world are urgently examining vaccine effectiveness related to this variant,” the CDC added.

Last year, the Critics Choice Awards unfolded as a hybrid show with both in-person and virtual appearances. Host Taye Diggs and some of the presenters broadcast from a stage in Los Angeles, while nominees appeared remotely from various locations around the world.

Apart from Critics Choice Awards, the Palm Springs Film Awards has also cancelled its upcoming ceremony for January 6 due to concerns over rising COVID-19 cases. BAFTA’s annual Tea Party, set for January 8, was also nixed on Monday.

Also on Wednesday, the Governor Awards ceremony, scheduled for January 15, was postponed.

Additionally, the AFI Awards, planned for January 7, have been delayed until a yet-to-be-determined date.

Palm Springs Film Awards Cancelled Due To Covid-19 Spike

The Palm Springs International Film Festival has cancelled its star-studded, in-person awards ceremony amid rising concerns around COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.

As per Variety, the organisation behind the Palm Springs International Film Festival announced the cancellation on Monday. The annual awards were planned to be presented at a black-tie ceremony held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on January 6.

The organisation made the cancellation announcement in a statement that read, “We are taking this action due to the recent spike in COVID cases and out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of the honorees, patrons, and staff.”

“The Palm Springs Film Awards are one of the largest events in the film world with 2,500 guests and more than 1,000 staff in the room,” the statement continued.

“The Film Awards will partner with ‘Entertainment Tonight’ to celebrate this year’s honorees with details to follow. Those who purchased tickets for the Film Awards will be reimbursed. We hope to return to the Film Awards to an in-person event in 2023,” the statement concluded.

The film society also noted that the screening portion Palm Springs Film Festival, which runs January 7-17, will still take place and require proof of vaccination and masks in theatres.

Considered a precursor to the Academy Awards and one of the first major award shows of the new year, the festival’s 2022 awards honourees are Kristen Stewart (who earned the Spotlight Award, Actress for ‘Spencer’), Penelope Cruz (the International Star Award, Actress for ‘Parallel Mothers’), Jane Campion (Director of the Year, ‘The Power of the Dog’), Jessica Chastain (the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actress for ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’), Jennifer Hudson (the Chairman’s Award, ‘Respect’), Andrew Garfield (the Desert Palm Achievement Award, Actor for ‘Tick, Tick … Boom!’), Lady Gaga (the Icon Award, ‘House of Gucci’) and Nicole Kidman (the Career Achievement Award,’ Being the Ricardos’).

The Vanguard Award goes to Sir Kenneth Branagh and the cast of ‘Belfast’ (Caitriona Balfe, Jamie Dornan, Ciaran Hinds and Jude Hill), while the cast of ‘King Richard’ (Will Smith, Aunjanue Ellis, Saniyya Sidney, Demi Singleton, Jon Bernthal and Tony Goldwyn) nabbed the Ensemble Performance Award.

This marks the second consecutive year that the Palm Springs Film Awards gala has been cancelled.

For 2021, the film festival nominally acknowledged 11 honourees — Riz Ahmed (‘Sound of Metal’), Viola Davis (‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’), Andra Day (‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’), Anthony Hopkins (‘The Father’), Daniel Kaluuya (‘Judas and the Black Messiah’), Carey Mulligan (‘Promising Young Woman’), Leslie Odom Jr. (‘One Night in Miami’), Gary Oldman (‘Mank’), Chloe Zhao (‘Nomadland’) and the film ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’.

All 11 awardees went on to receive Academy Award nominations, with Hopkins, Kaluuya and Zhao nabbing Oscar trophies.

Initially planned for January 7 at the Parker Palm Springs, honourees for that event include Javier Bardem (the Creative Impact in Acting award winner) and Asghar Farhadi (Creative Impact in Directing award).

Taylor Swift Music Celebration Event Turns Into Covid-19 Superspreader

The Sydney, Australia event held by fans in celebration of Taylor Swift’s recent release of ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ has turned out into a COVID-19 superspreader after close to 100 attendees tested positive.

According to Fox News, fans who gathered at the December 10 Sydney event–‘On Repeat: Taylor Swift Red Party’ in celebration of the singer’s ‘Red (Taylor’s Version)’ are reportedly being asked to “immediately get tested” and isolate for seven days after “at least 97 positive cases” have been confirmed.

As per reports the pop star was not in attendance at the event.

New South Wales Health Department has also tagged Metro Theatre in Sydney as a “new venue of concern” following the celebration of Swift’s rerelease of ‘Red.’

“NSW Health is asking all household contacts of close contacts to get tested and self-isolate until a negative result is received by everyone in the household,” Fox News quoted NSW’s report issued in a public health alert.

The statement notes, “NSW Health is urgently contacting 600 people who attended Metro Theatre at this time and checked in via the QR code and is directing them and members of their households to immediately get tested and follow public health advice.”

“NSW Health is appealing for anyone who attended but did not check in using the QR code to urgently get tested and isolate and for the community to ensure other potential attendees are aware of this advice,” the alert adds.

“NSW Health is reminding everyone of the importance of maintaining COVID-safe practices as the transmission is occurring at social events during the festive period,” the statement concludes.

The authorities have also alerted people about the fines for those “who fail to comply with the isolation, testing and quarantine requirements”.

Reportedly, the fines have increased to USD 5,000 for individuals (from USD 1,000), and USD 10,000 for corporations (from USD 5,000).

Swift gifted her fans the re-recording of her hit 2012 album ‘Red’, last month. It is the second album she rerecorded after releasing ‘Fearless (Taylor’s Version)’ in April.

The singer was inspired to re-record her previous six albums after music manager Scooter Braun purchased the masters to them in 2019. Her hope was that the updated takes on the original songs would give her back control of her discography.

Swift still has to re-record her debut album, ‘Taylor Swift’, her 2010 album ‘Speak Now’, her 2014 work ‘1989’, and her 2017 album, ‘Reputation’.

Lil Nas X Says He Has Covid-19 After Dropping Out Of Jingle Ball Show

Grammy-winning artist Lil Nas X recently appeared to confirm that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

The hitmaker revealed his diagnosis in a series of tweets, sharing that he is experiencing symptoms associated with the disease. “Covid really sucks. last night i was tryna watch p-rn then i sneezed snot all over p–is lmao,” he tweeted — then deleted, reported Billboard.

His COVID revelations apparently came a little earlier in the afternoon, after former US President Barack Obama shared his list of favourite music of 2021, which included Lil Nas X’s Montero (Call Me By Your Name)’, according to various outlets that captured the artist’s tweets before he nixed the entire thread.

After the former president presented his playlist, the 22-year-old artist shared Obama’s tweet and added, “started running around the house when I saw this then i remembered i have covid lol.” He followed that with “now that i’m sure i won’t die from covid i will now begin making mildly funny jokes about having it.”

According to Uproxx, Lil Nas X also took the Omicron/Omarion joke about the new variant further, writing, “I’m not sure whether I’ve had the omarion or alicia keys variant of covid but this has not been a fun journey.”

The rapper’s message comes within a week of his announcement that he had to pull out of Capital FM’s Jingle Ball show in the UK after unspecified members in his camp tested positive for COVID-19.

Popular band Coldplay also had to cancel their Jingle Ball appearance for the same reason.

“Both acts have had members of their teams test positive for COVID-19 and therefore are not able to perform. We’d like to wish the very best and a speedy recovery to Coldplay, Lil Nas X and their teams,” read Capital FM’s statement last weekend.

Nas X is certainly not the only artist from a Jingle Ball lineup to contract COVID-19 or cancel a show after someone from their team tested positive.

Doja Cat shared on Sunday that she tested positive after cancelling two Jingle Ball dates. On Thursday, Megan Thee Stallion and the Jonas Brothers separately announced they wouldn’t be able to perform at Jingle Ball in Atlanta because members from their respective camps tested positive for COVID-19.

Dua Lipa also had to pull out of her scheduled Jingle Ball performances in New York City and L.A. due to her ongoing bout with laryngitis.

Italy Tightens Restrictions For Unvaccinated Travellers: Covid-19

In a bid to control the spread of COVID-19, Italy has tightened curbs on unvaccinated travellers. Such travellers will have limited access to several places and services. The discovery of the Omicron has made things difficult for the tourism sector everywhere. But in Italy, the number of COVID-19 cases have been on a rise.

The new guidelines introduced by Italy allow only fully vaccinated people or those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 to access indoor seating at bars and restaurants. Only such people are allowed to visit museums in the country or go to cinemas and clubs.

Unvaccinated people will get a basic green health pass after testing negative for COVID-19 in PCR test taken within the past 48 hours. The country police have also started enforcing the various measures from the early hours. If anyone is caught travelling without a health certificate on a bus, metro, tram or train, they’ll be slapped with an automatic 400-euro (USD 450) fine.

Italy in Europe has the highest vaccine rates with 80 percent of the population receiving either one or two jabs. Another 15 percent of people have had a booster shot. The country has seen a spike in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, and on Sunday the number reached 15000.

Rome has tightened the weekend curbs and made face masks necessary to be worn outdoors, or at shopping streets. In 2020, Italy was the first European nation to be hit by COVID-19 and also had the highest death tolls. Till now, Italy has reported 51.1 lakh cases of COVID-19 and 1.34 lakh deaths.

Study: College Athletes With Covid-19 Develop Myocarditis

According to a new study, a small but significant percentage of college athletes with COVID-19 develop myocarditis, a potentially dangerous inflammation of the heart muscle.

The findings of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). Myocarditis, which typically occurs as a result of a bacterial or viral infection, can affect the heart’s rhythm and ability to pump and often leaves behind lasting damage in the form of scarring to the heart muscle. It has been linked to as many as 20 per cent of sudden deaths in young athletes. The COVID-19 pandemic raised concerns over an increased incidence of the condition in student-athletes.

For the new study, clinicians at schools in the highly competitive Big Ten athletic conference collaborated to collect data on the frequency of myocarditis in student-athletes recovering from COVID-19 infection. Conference officials had required all athletes who had COVID-19 to get a series of cardiac tests before returning to play, providing a unique opportunity for researchers to collect data on the athletes’ cardiac status.

Jean Jeudy, MD, professor and radiologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, serves as the cardiac MRI core leader for the Big Ten Cardiac Registry. This registry oversaw the collection of all the data from the individual schools of the Big Ten conference.

Dr Jeudy reviewed the results of 1,597 cardiac MRI exams collected at the 13 participating schools. There was no selection bias for cardiac MRI, as all COVID-positive athletes underwent a complete cardiac battery of tests including cardiac MRI, echocardiogram, ECG and blood tests, as well as a complete medical history.

Thirty-seven of the athletes, or 2.3 per cent, were diagnosed with COVID-19 myocarditis, a percentage on par with the incidence of myocarditis in the general population. However, an alarmingly high proportion of myocarditis cases were found in athletes with no clinical symptoms. Twenty of the patients with COVID-19 myocarditis (54 per cent) had neither cardiac symptoms nor cardiac testing abnormalities.

Only cardiac MRI identified the problem.

“Testing patients for clinical symptoms of myocarditis only captured a small percentage of all patients who had myocardial inflammation. Cardiac MRI for all athletes yielded a 7.4-fold increase in detection,” Dr Jeudy said.

The implications of post-COVID-19 myocardial injury detected by cardiac MRI are still unknown.
“The main issue is the presence of persistent inflammation and/or myocardial scar. Each of these can be an underlying foundation for additional damage and increased risk of arrhythmia,” Dr Jeudy added.

As part of the study, Dr Jeudy and colleagues continue to add to the Big Ten Cardiac Registry to gain more understanding.

“We still don’t know the long-term effects. Some athletes had issues that were resolved within a month, but we also have athletes with continued abnormalities on their MRI as a result of their initial injury and scarring. There are a lot of chronic issues with COVID-19 that we need to know more about, and hopefully, this registry can be one of the major parts of getting that information,” Dr Jeudy explained.

The registry will allow researchers to look beyond the presence of abnormalities and study things like changes in exercise function over time.

“These are young patients, and the effects of myocardial inflammation can potentially impact their lives more significantly than in older patients. That’s why we really want to push forward and continue to collect this data,” Dr Jeudy said.

Obstacles to widespread use of cardiac MRI in college athletes are significant and include cost and lack of access to advanced MRI capability at many centres. But, as the new study shows, cardiac MRI adds considerable value to cardiac testing.

“The role of cardiac MRI as a screening tool in this population needs to be explored,” Dr Jeudy said.

“The reality is that there is a small percentage of cases where we know the athletes have an increased risk for sudden death, and using cardiac MRI will increase the number of players who are identified,” Dr Jeudy concluded.

Study Finds Possibility How An Unborn Baby Can Contract Covid-19

According to a study led by UCL researchers with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the NIHR Great Ormond Street Biomedical Research Centre, it is only possible for an unborn baby to contract Covid-19 if their gut is exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The research was published in the ‘BJOG – An International Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology Journal’.

Although the study did not look specifically at mothers with Covid-19 and whether their infection was transmitted to an unborn baby, it found that certain fetal organs, such as the intestine, are more susceptible to infection than others.

However, researchers said, that opportunities for the Covid-19 virus infecting the fetus are extremely limited, as the placenta acted as a highly effective and protective shield, and evidence suggested fetal infection, known as vertical transmission, is extremely uncommon.

Researchers set out to understand how newborn babies could have developed Covid-19 antibodies, as it had been reported in a small number of cases.

Specifically, they wanted to know if and how the virus could be passed from an infected mother to the unborn fetus.

To answer this question, researchers examined various fetal organs and placenta tissue to see if there was any presence of the cell surface protein receptors, ACE2 and TMPRSS2. These two receptors sit on the outside of cells and both are needed for the SARS-Cov-2 virus to infect and spread.

Researchers found the only fetal organs to feature both the ACE2 and TMPRSS2 were the intestines (gut) and the kidney; however, the fetal kidney is anatomically protected from exposure to the virus and is, therefore, less at risk of infection.

Therefore, the team concluded that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could only infect the fetus via the gut and through fetal swallowing of amniotic fluid, which the unborn baby does naturally for nutrients.

After birth ACE2 and TMPRSS2 receptors are known to be present in combination on the surface of cells in the human intestine as well as the lung. The gut and lung are suspected to be the main routes for Covid-19 infection, but in younger children, the intestine appeared to be most important for virus infection.

Senior author, Dr Mattia Gerli (UCL Division of Surgery and Interventional Science & the Royal Free Hospital) explained, “The fetus is known to begin swallowing the amniotic fluid in the second half of pregnancy. To cause infection, the SARS-CoV-2 virus would need to be present in significant quantities in the amniotic fluid around the fetus.”

“However, many studies in maternity care have found that the amniotic fluid around the fetus does not usually contain the SARS-CoV2 virus, even if the mother is infected with Covid-19. Our findings, therefore, explain that clinical infection of the fetus during pregnancy is possible but uncommon and that is reassuring for parents-to-be,” Gerli added.

The study, funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and UKRI COVID-19 rapid response initiative, provided the most definitive information, to date, regarding the susceptibility of the human fetus to COVID-19 infection.

Fetal organs and tissues were made available via the Human Developmental Biology Resource (HDBR) biobank, which assisted embryonic/fetal research. None of the organs and tissues from donated fetuses was from Covid-19-infected mothers and, in line with ethical guidelines, the research team did not test for Covid-19 antibodies.

Co-senior author Professor Paolo De Coppi (UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health and NIHR Great Ormond Street Hospital) said, “We have shown that the fetal intestine, which is in contact with amniotic fluids swallowed by the baby, is susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, the placenta acts as a natural barrier, and with the limited evidence of amniotic fluid containing the virus, our study should provide reassurance to mothers.”

The authors highlighted that the biggest risk to the fetus during pregnancy is if the mother becomes very unwell with Covid-19 infection. In this instance, the virus may be present in high concentrations in the amniotic fluid. In addition, it could damage the placenta, which can lead to preterm birth.

Co-author, Professor Anna David (UCL Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Institute for Women’s Health and UCLH NIHR Biomedical Research Centre) added, “Vaccination against Covid-19 is known to be safe in pregnancy and reduces the chance of Sars-CoV2 infection to very low levels. The results of this study provide definitive information regarding the susceptibility of the human fetus to Covid-19 infection. Our findings support current healthcare policy that vaccination in pregnancy is the best way for mothers to protect their unborn baby from Covid-19 infection.”

French PM tested positive for COVID-19

Paris [France] : French Prime Minister Jean Castex has tested positive for COVID-19, French media reported on Monday.
Returning from Brussels Monday afternoon after meeting with his Belgian counterpart Alexander De Croo, Castex learnt that one of his daughters tested positive for COVID-19, Le Figaro reported. De Croo will be tested on Wednesday and will remain in quarantine until the result of his test, local media reported.
Several senior members of the Belgian government will also go into quarantine to avoid any risks.
French ministers in the delegation include minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly, Interior minister Gerald Darmanin, minister of Justice Eric Dupond-Moretti, and Secretary of State for European Affairs Clement Beaune.
Castex “immediately got a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, which turned out to be positive,” the French newspaper cited the prime minister’s office as saying.
The schedule of the French head of government is to be modified for the coming days in order for him to continue working in his isolation.

Vice President lauds Railways for rising to the occasion with novel efforts during COVID-19

Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh) [India] : Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu, on Monday, lauded the Indian Railways for rising to the occasion during the pandemic and coming up with novel efforts to ‘keep the wheels running and customers protected’ from the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID-19, said a press release from the Vice President office.
Giving the instance of COVID care isolation coaches, Shramik special trains, and ‘Oxygen Expresses’, Naidu said the Indian Railways geared up its entire machinery and helped the country to effectively tackle the pandemic. The Vice President also complimented the Railways for the in-house development and production of PPEs, coveralls, hand sanitizers and masks, and ensuring the transport of medical equipment and general goods to cities and villages.
“Due to this proactive stance, shortages of goods and food stocks have been largely minimized. Thus, the Railways have not only helped the nation to effectively tackle the pandemic but proved to be an essential lifeline in times of need,” he observed.
Naidu was speaking at Visakhapatnam Railway Station after he flagged off the “Visakhapatnam-Kirandul Passenger Train” with upgraded LHB (Linke Hofmann Busch) rake and additional Vistadome coaches.
Recalling his close association with the city, the Vice President thanked the government and complimented the decision of Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw for heeding his suggestion to the Ministry to expedite the use of Vistadome coaches in the route of Visakhapatnam-Araku.
Referring to the tourism potential of the route which passes through a scenic, mountainous terrain of Eastern Ghats through many curves, tunnels and bridges, Naidu said the 360-degree viewing system of the Vistadome coaches will make the journey an unforgettable experience for the passengers. He also commended the Railways for the introduction of an LHB coach to the train, which enhances the comfort and safety of the passengers.

India logs 10,302 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hrs

New Delhi [India] : India reported 10,302 new COVID-19 cases and 267 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.
Out of these, Kerala reported 5,754 new cases of the COVID-19 infection and 49 deaths. Meanwhile, India’s active caseload stands at 1,24,868 which now account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.36 per cent, the lowest since March 2020.
With 11,787 people recovering in the last 24 hours, the recovery tally has gone up to 3,39,09,708. The recovery rate is currently at 98.29 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
As per the health ministry, the daily positivity rate stands at 0.96per cent. It has remained below 2 per cent for the last 47 days while the weekly positivity rate is at 0.93 per cent, less than 2 per cent for the last 57 days.
India has tested 63.05 crore samples for COVID-19 so far.
More than 115.79 crore vaccine doses have been administered under the nationwide vaccination drive.

People On Antidepressants Are Less Likely To Die Of Covid-19

A new study of health records from 87 health care centres across the United States found that people taking a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were less likely to die of COVID-19.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘JAMA Network Open’. The results add to a body of evidence indicating that SSRIs may have beneficial effects against the worst symptoms of COVID-19, although large randomised clinical trials are needed to prove this.

“We can’t tell if the drugs are causing these effects, but the statistical analysis is showing significant association. There’s power in the numbers,” said Marina Sirota, PhD, associate professor of paediatrics and a member of the Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute (BCHSI) at UC San Francisco.

The UCSF-Stanford research team analysed electronic health records from the Cerner Real World COVID-19 de-identified database, which had information from almost 500,000 patients across the US. This included 83,584 adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19 between January and September 2020. Of those, 3,401 patients were prescribed SSRIs.

The large size of the dataset enabled researchers to compare the outcomes of patients with COVID-19 on SSRIs to a matched set of patients with COVID-19 who were not taking them, thus teasing out the effects of age, sex, race, ethnicity, and comorbidities associated with severe COVID-19, such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as the other medications the patients were taking.

The results showed that patients taking fluoxetine were 28 per cent less likely to die; those taking either fluoxetine or another SSRI called fluvoxamine were 26 per cent less likely to die; the entire group of patients taking any kind of SSRI was 8 per cent less likely to die than the matched patient controls.
Though the effects are smaller than those found in recent clinical trials of new antivirals developed by Pfizer and Merck, the researchers said more treatment options are still needed to help bring the pandemic to an end.

“The results are encouraging. It’s important to find as many options as possible for treating any condition. A particular drug or treatment may not work or be well tolerated by everyone. Data from electronic medical records allow us to quickly look into existing drugs that could be repurposed for treating COVID-19 or other conditions,” said Tomiko Oskotsky, MD, a research scientist in Sirota’s lab at BCHSI.

Other authors include David K. Stevenson, MD, Ivana Maric, PhD, Ronald J Wong, PhD, and Nima Aghaeepour, PhD, of Stanford University; and Alice Tang and Boris Oskotsky, PhD, of UCSF.

UK extends COVID-19 booster vaccine to people over 40 years old

London [UK]: The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI) on Monday announced that people over 40 years old living in the United Kingdom will now be eligible to receive a booster COVID-19 vaccine six months after having their second dose, as a new study showed that boosters give over 90% protection in adults over 50.

“JCVI has previously advised booster vaccination for all adults aged 50 years and over and those in a COVID-19 at-risk group. The offer has now been broadened to include those aged 40 to 49 years,” the committee said in a statement.
The booster vaccines to be offered to this new age group are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, the same mRNA-type vaccine that is being used since September in people over 50 and at higher risk from the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. So far, more than 12,6 million people in the UK have had the third dose.

According to a study released on Monday by the UK Health Security Agency, two weeks after receiving a booster dose, protection against symptomatic infection in adults aged 50 years and over was 93.1% in those who first had AstraZeneca as their primary vaccine and 94.0% for Pfizer-BioNTech.

The JCVI also advised that all 16- to 17-year-olds who are not in an at-risk group should be offered a second dose of the Pfizer vaccine 12 weeks or more following the first vaccine dose. (ANI/Sputnik)

India records 10,229 new Covid cases; active cases decline to 1,34,096

New Delhi [India] : India’s Covid tally rose to 3,44,47,536 with 10,229 more people testing positive for coronavirus, while the active cases have declined to 1,34,096, the lowest in 523 days, according to the Union Health Ministry’s data updated on Monday. The death toll reached 4,63,655 after 125 new fatalities were reported, the data updated at 8 am showed. The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 38 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 141 consecutive days now. The active cases have declined to 1,34, 096 comprising 0.39 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.26 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the Health Ministry said. A decrease of 1,822 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 1.12 per cent. It has been less than 2 per cent for the last 42 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.99 per cent. It has been below 2 per cent for the last 52 days, according to the ministry. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 3,38,49,785, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.35 per cent. The cumulative doses administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive has exceeded 112.34 crore. India had crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23. The 125 new fatalities include 65 from Kerala and 18 from Maharashtra. A total of 4,63,655 deaths have been reported so far in the country, including 1,40,583 from Maharashtra, 38,145 from Karnataka, 36,284 from Tamil Nadu, 35,750 from Kerala, 25,094 from Delhi, 22,909 from Uttar Pradesh and 19,314 from West Bengal. The Health Ministry stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities. “Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

Australian COVID-19 cases fall to recent low amid battle against 3rd wave

Canberra [Australia] : Australia has reported its fewest daily COVID-19 cases in recent weeks as the country continues to battle the third wave of infections.
There were 1,115 new locally-acquired cases and five deaths from the pandemic reported across Australia on Sunday morning. The majority of new cases were in Victoria, the country’s second-most populous state with Melbourne as the capital city, where 905 cases and four deaths were reported.
As of Saturday 90.4 percent of Australians aged 16 and over had received one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 83 percent were fully inoculated, according to the Department of Health.
More than 250,000 Australians have had a third booster shot.
As the booster rollout accelerates Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday said the government would not change its definition of “fully vaccinated”.
“The advice at this stage of Professor Brendan Murphy’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Group is that you’re regarded as fully vaccinated with two doses,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television.

India reports 11,271 new COVID-19 cases, active caseload lowest since March 2020

New Delhi [India] : India reported the lowest COVID-19 active caseload since March 2020 with the tally at 1,35,918, the Ministry of Health informed on Sunday.
“Active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.39 per cent- lowest in 17 months (522 days),” the ministry said. As many as 11,271 new COVID-19 cases and 285 Covid deaths were also reported in the country in the last 24 hours. The death toll from the virus has now reached 4,63,530, the ministry informed.
Of these, Kerala reported 6,468 new cases and 23 deaths.
As per a press release of the ministry, 12,55,904 Covid tests had been conducted in the last 24 hours. India has so far conducted over 62.37 Crore (62,37,51,344) COVID-19 tests.
“While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, Weekly Positivity Rate at 1.01 per cent remains less than 2 per cent for the last 51 days now,” the ministry said.
“The daily positivity rate reported to be 0.90 per cent. The daily positivity rate has remained below 2 per cent for the last 41 days and below 3 per cent for 76 consecutive days now,” it added.
With the recovery of 11,376 patients in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally of recovered patients, since the beginning of the pandemic, has risen to 3,38,37,859.
Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.26 per cent.
As many as 57,43,840 COVID-19 vaccine doses have also been administrated in the last 24 hours. This has been achieved through 1,14,65,001 sessions, the ministry said.
India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has now exceeded 112.01 Crore (1,12,01,03,225) as per provisional reports till 7 am today.

Children under 5 years of age exempted from COVID-19 tests upon arrival in India: Health Ministry

New Delhi [India] : Children under five years of age are exempted from both pre-and-post-arrival testings upon arrival in India, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. However, if they are found to be symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and treatment as per protocols. “Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and treated as per laid down protocol,” the Health Ministry guidelines on November 11. The Health Ministry said that the guidelines for international arrivals in India have been reviewed in view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic. “The global trajectory of COVID-19 pandemic continues to decline with certain regional variations. The need to monitor the continuously changing nature of virus and evolution of SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern (VOCs) must still remain in focus,” the guideline said. This standard operating procedure (SOP) shall be valid from November 12 (00.00 hours IST) till further orders, the Ministry stated. The revised guidelines also state that 15 days must have elapsed since the completion of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule. On arrival, de-boarding should be done, ensuring physical distancing and thermal screening of all passengers is carried out by the health officials present at the airport. Contacts of suspected cases are co-passengers seated in the same row, plus three rows in front and three rows behind, along with identified cabin crew. Also, all the community contacts of travellers who have tested positive would be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s protocol, the guidelines stated.

NAL successfully demonstrates aerial COVID-19 vaccine delivery at remote Bengaluru location

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] : The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) has teamed with the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka for aerial delivery of COVID-19 vaccines in a remote area of Bengaluru.
The Octacopter developed by CSIR-NAL successfully delivered 50 vials of Covid-19 vaccines along with syringes in a special container from Chandapura PHC to Haragadde PHC on Saturday. CSIR-NAL’s Octacopter took off at 9.43 am from Chandapura PHC carried covid-19 vaccines and delivered them to Haragadde PHC at 9.53 am.
The Octacopter flew at an altitude of 300m AGL at a speed of 10m/sec and covered an aerial distance of about 7 km in about 10 minutes.
After delivery of vaccines at Haragadde the Octacopter returned to Chandapura PHC. The entire mission covered a distance of about 14 km in 20 minutes including delivery of vaccines. Medical Officer Dr. Manisha said that usually, it takes about 30-40 minutes to deliver vaccines to Haragadde from Chandapura by road.
NAL a constituent of CSIR, India has developed indigenous, medium class BVLOS multi-copter UAV.
The UAV is made out of a lightweight carbon fiber foldable structure for ease of transportation and has unique features like autonomous guidance through dual redundant MEMS-based digital Autopilot with advanced flight instrumentation systems.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India has granted conditional permission to CSIR-NAL for conducting BVLOS flight trials starting Saturday.
NAL’s octacopter can carry a payload of 15 kg with a hovering endurance of 40 minutes. It can fly at an operational altitude of 500 m AGL and at the maximum flying speed of 36 kmph. Its regulatory compliance includes DGCA-NPNT, Geo fencing and digital sky with 360 degrees Collison avoidance making it one of the best UAVs in its class.
The Octacopter developed by NAL can be used for a variety of BVLOS applications for last-mile delivery like medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, Human organ’s etc. NAL Octacopter is integrated with a Powerful board embedded computer and latest generation sensors for versatile applications like agricultural pesticide spraying, crop monitoring, mining survey, magnetic geo survey mapping etc.
The doctors at PHCs were delighted to witness the demonstration of the fast and safe aerial delivery of vaccines.
Dr Srinivas, District Health Officer, Dr. Vinay, Taluka Health Officer and Dr. Nalini, Assistant Medical Officer, General Hospital, Anekal expressed their happiness and complimented the initiative of CSIR-NAL towards the societal cause and extended support to continue the joint initiative to farthermost remote places in the coming days.
Dr. P V Satyanaraya Murthy, Head UAV, CSIR-NAL while congratulating his team has said that the Octacopter for delivery of vaccines is a need of the hour of the country for much deeper penetration of vaccines in remote areas.
“NAL octacopter is perfectly designed for such a mission with easy to operate by unskilled operators. NAL has already tied up with private firms for drone manufacturing and offering operational services,” added Dr. Murthy.

Study: Immune System Early Responder Can Combat Covid-19

A simple RNA molecule jumpstarts the immune system’s ‘first responders’ to viral infection and can even eradicate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in mice with chronic cases of COVID-19, a new Yale School of Medicine study found.

The molecule, known as SLR14, is a simple, easy to manufacture, loop of RNA that can trigger the production of interferons, a group of proteins produced by immune cells that are key to the body’s innate, or initial, response to infection. Multiple studies have shown that COVID-19 patients who produce high levels of interferons have far better outcomes than those for whom interferon levels are low during the early days of infection.

Treated mice also responded well to numerous variants of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, including the Delta variant, currently the predominant strain of the virus in the United States, according to the new report published on November 10 in the journal Experimental Medicine.

If clinical trials in humans confirm the efficacy of SLR14, the relatively inexpensive compound could help reduce COVID-19 cases in low-income countries where vaccine availability is limited, the researchers say. It can also provide important benefits for immunocompromised individuals who are not able to create sufficient levels of antibody-producing B cells and virus-killing T cells.

“SLR14 therefore holds great promise as a new class of RNA therapeutics that can be applied as antivirals against SARS-CoV-2,” said Akiko Iwasaki, the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology and Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale and corresponding author of the paper.

Iwasaki added, “Moreover, because this RNA-based therapeutic approach is simple and versatile, our study will facilitate pandemic preparedness and response against future respiratory pathogens sensitive to Type I interferons.”

Typically, vaccines such as those that combat COVID-19 introduce harmless elements of the virus to elicit T and B cell production by the body’s adaptive immune system, which can recognize previous pathogens and mount a targeted response. Treatments such as monoclonal antibodies also aim to mimic this later-stage immune response.

For the new study, however, a team led by first author Tianyang Mao, a graduate student in Iwasaki’s lab, explored whether compounds such as SLR14 might activate the innate immune system and protect against viral infections, including COVID-19.

In experiments, the researchers found that a single dose of the compound was sufficient to protect mice against severe disease and death, worked against a variety of variants, and could even eradicate the virus from mice with chronic infections.

“The results of innate immune activation clearing chronic infection were surprising and spectacular,” Iwasaki said.

Patent rights to SLR14 and similar compounds are owned by RIGimmune a company cofounded by Iwasaki and Anna Pyle, Sterling Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology at Yale and a co-author of this study which is searching for novel agents that can combat a variety of pathogens.

Malaysia reports 5,403 new COVID-19 infections, 78 more deaths

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] : Malaysia reported another 5,403 new COVID-19 infections, as of midnight Tuesday, bringing the national total to 2,517,173, according to the health ministry.
Some 25 of the new cases are imported, with 5,378 being local transmissions, data released on the ministry’s website showed. Another 78 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 29,427.
About 5,311 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 2,425,943.
There are some 61,803 active cases, 542 are being held in intensive care and 268 of those are in need of assisted breathing.
The country reported 116,642 vaccine doses administered on Tuesday and some 78.3 percent of the population have received at least one dose and 75.5 percent are fully vaccinated.

India reports 11,466 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,466 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.
The country’s active caseload stands at 1,39,683, which is the lowest in 264 days and it accounts for less than 1 per cent of total cases. It is currently at 0.41 per cent, the lowest since March 2020. The recovery rate is currently at 98.25 per cent and it is the highest since March 2020 the beginning of the pandemic.
The country has also conducted over 61.85 crore COVID-19 tests.
Meanwhile, 109.63 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive.

India reports 10,126 new Covid cases in last 24 hrs, lowest in 266 days

New Delhi [India] : India reported 10,126 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest in 266 days hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.
The country’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rises to 3,43,77113. The active caseload stands at 1,40,638, which is the lowest in 263 days. Currently, the active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.41 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020.
With 11,982 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries mounted to 3,37,75,086. India’s recovery rate stands at 98.25 per cent, which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
The death toll climbed to 4,61,389 with 332 fresh fatalities.
The weekly positivity rate at 1.25 per cent remains less than 2 per cent for the last 46 days now while the daily positivity rate is reported to be 0.93 per cent.
The daily positivity rate has remained below 2 per cent for the last 36 days and below 3 per cent for 71 consecutive days now.
According to the health ministry, in the last 24 hours, a total of 10,85,848 tests were conducted taking the cumulative tests to 61,72,23,931.
With the administration of 59,08,440 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 1,09,08,16,356 as per provisional reports till 7 am today.

India logs 11,451 new COVID-19 cases, 266 deaths

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,451 fresh COVID-19 cases, 13,204 recoveries and 266 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Union Health Ministry.
Out of that, Kerala reported 7,124 cases, 7,488 recoveries, and 21 deaths. Active cases account for 0.42 per cent of total cases which is the lowest since March 2020
India’s active caseload currently stands at 1,42,826, the lowest in 262 days.
The recovery rate stands at 98.24 per cent which is the highest since March 2020.

COVID-19 affects 250 million people worldwide in last 24 hours

Hanoi [Vietnam] : The world had recorded 250.2 million COVID-19 infections as of 4 pm on Sunday, including more than 5 million deaths, according to worldometers.com.
The US is the hardest hit country with 47.3 million infections and 775,000 deaths. India ranked second with more than 34.3 million cases and 460,787 deaths, followed by Brazil with 21.8 million infections and 609,417 deaths. China will continue to implement strict COVID-19 control measures and a “zero tolerance” policy, a senior official of China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Saturday.
He said China’s strict policy is prompt to the current conditions in the country and scientific philosophy behind pandemic prevention and control. In the past weeks, China had reported 918 cases in 44 cities across 20 provinces with viral chains linked back to multiple imported sources which are unrelated to each other.
On Sunday, China recorded 55 new cases, including 40 cases of community transmission.
The rate of COVID-19 infection among kids is rising in Russia, said Health Minister Mikhail Murashko during a working trip to Russia’s Ryazan Region on Saturday. He said that a Sputnik V-based vaccine has been developed for protecting children, with its expertise nearing completion now. 

Iran reports 6,803 new COVID-19 cases, 5,980,260 in total

Tehran [Iran] : The Iranian health ministry reported on Saturday 6,803 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total infections to 5,980,260.
According to an official briefing published on state TV, the pandemic has claimed 127,173 lives in the country so far, after 120 new deaths were registered in the past 24 hours. A total of 5,588,545 people have recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across the country, while 3,713 remain in intensive care units, the ministry said on its official website.
By Saturday, 54,977,728 Iranians have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, while 38,435,297 have taken two.
A total of 36,167,151 tests have so far been carried out across the country.
In the morning, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi praised the efforts of the country’s vaccine developers and stressed the importance of providing them with legal and financial support.

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage exceeds 108.21 cr

New Delhi [India] : With the administration of 28,40,174 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 108.21 crore (1,08,21,66,365) as per provisional reports till 7 am on Sunday, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Sustained and collaborative efforts by the Centre and the States, UTs continue the trend of less than 50,000 Daily New Cases that are being reported for 133consecutive days now. Meanwhile, India reported 10,853 new cases in the last 24 hours.
With new cases, the active caseload is presently at 1,44,845 which is the lowest in 260 days. Active cases presently constitute 0.42% of the country’s total Positive Cases, which is the lowest since March 2020 according to the data released by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare early Sunday.
The testing capacity across the country continues to be expanded. The last 24 hours saw a total of 9,19,996 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over61.48 Cr (61,48,85,747) cumulative tests.
While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, the weekly positivity rate at 1.28 per cent remains less than 2 per cent for the last 44 days now. The daily positivity rate was reported to be 1.18 per cent. The daily positivity rate has remained below 2 per cent for the last 34 days and below 3 per cent for 69 consecutive days now.

Massive COVID wave unlikely if large population already infected, says AIIMS Doctor

Delhi [India] : Responding to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) warning of a new COVID-19 wave, AIIMS Doctor and Epidemiologist Dr Sanjay K Rai on Friday said that it is unlikely if a large population has already been already infected by the virus.
The WHO had earlier warned of a massive COVID-19 wave in Europe and Central Asia. It also said that over 5,00,000 deaths (combined) are likely in this region by February 2022. “When large populations get infected, massive waves of the virus are unlikely. Natural infections lead to natural immunity which leads to a decline in the number of cases. Vaccinations also reduce disease severity and deaths. It will happen in Russia and Central Asia. A wave of infections is going on there, but this will reduce by February. This happened everywhere, including in India. A large amount of the population was infected, then cases started to decline rapidly. Whenever the cases rise rapidly, they decline quickly too,” he said.
He, however, said it was likely that the regions could touch the mark of 5,00,000 deaths by February and even vaccinations would not bring the rising deaths to a sudden halt.
He added that WHO was losing its credibility on the global stage.
“It has been giving controversial statements. It has not been able to figure out the origins of COVID-19. It took them over 1.5 years to understand that natural infections are giving protection to the people but they are still not giving much weightage to it,” he said.
Amid increasing COVID-19 cases in Europe and Central Asia, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday warned of rising cases and deaths. According to the WHO, every single country in Europe and Central Asia is facing a real threat of COVID-19 resurgence or is already fighting it.

Over 107.92 cr COVID-19 vaccine doses administered so far in India

New Delhi [India] : India has administered over 107.92 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses so far under the nationwide vaccination drive, the Ministry for Health and Family Welfare informed on Saturday.
As per the ministry, 1,07,92,19,546 vaccines doses have been administered in the country so far. Meanwhile, India reported 10,929 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The country’s active caseload stands at 1,46,950 the lowest in 255 days.
Active cases account for less than one per cent of total cases, currently at 0.43 per cent, lowest since March 2020.
With 12,509 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries in the country have been increased to 3,37,37,468. The recovery rate is currently at 98.23 per cent which is the highest since March 2020.
The daily positivity rate is 1.35 per cent which is less than two per cent for the last 33 days and the weekly positivity rate stands at 1.27 per cent which is less than two per cent for the last 43 days.
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 8,10,783 samples were tested for the presence of the virus in the last 24 hours taking the cumulative tests conducted in the country to 61,39,65,751.

New Zealand reports 207 new cases of COVID-19

Wellington [New Zealand] : New Zealand reported 207 new cases of COVID-19, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Saturday.
Of the 207 new cases, 206 were community cases and one was an imported case at the border, said the Ministry. The total case number of COVID-19 in the current Delta variant outbreak in New Zealand community reached 4,240, including 4,047 in Auckland, 154 in Waikato, 17 in Wellington, 17 in Northland, four in Canterbury and one in Nelson-Marlborough, said the Ministry.
There were 73 COVID-19 patients in New Zealand hospitals including seven in ICU or HDU, it said.
New Zealand has recorded 6,981 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, said the Ministry.
According to the Ministry, 78 per cent of eligible New Zealanders have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, part of the Waikato region and Upper Northland region in the North Island, are at COVID-19 Alert Level Three restrictions. The rest of the country is at Alert Level Two restrictions with indoor activities limited to 100 people.

WHO chief warns about spike in COVID-19 as cases surge in Europe, Central Asia

Geneva [Switzerland] : Amid the latest rise in COVID-19 in Europe and Central Asia, WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday (local time) warned about the rising number of cases and deaths.
More than 5 million deaths have now been reported, and WHO believes the real number is higher. More than 50,000 people are losing their lives every week, UN News reported. In the last seven days, 56 countries, from all regions, reported an increase in deaths of more than 10 per cent. Tedros highlighted reports about lack of intensive care unit beds, lack of supplies, overwhelmed health workers, and hospitals deferring other needed procedures.
“Let me be very clear: this should not be happening”, he said. “We have all the tools to prevent COVID-19 transmission and save lives, and we continue to call on all countries to use those tools.”
According to the WHO, every single country in Europe and Central Asia is facing a real threat of COVID-19 resurgence or already fighting it.
In a statement issued on Thursday, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge has raised “grave concern” about the rising pace of Covid transmission in Europe.
“Last week with nearly 1.8 million new cases and 24,000 new deaths reported, Europe and Central Asia saw a six per cent increase and 12 per cent increase respectively, as compared to the previous week,” Kluge said during a press briefing.
“Over the past four weeks Europe has seen a greater than 55 per cent increase in new COVID19 cases,” he added.
Noting that Europe is once again “at the epicentre” of the pandemic, the WHO Regional Director said the current pace of transmission across the 53 countries of the European Region, is of grave concern.

‘Air pollution may lead to severe COVID cases’

New Delhi [India] : Stating that air pollution could lead to more severe cases of COVID, All India Institute of Medical Science Director Dr Randeep Guleria said that pollution has a huge effect on respiratory health, especially among those who have lung diseases and asthma.
As pollution and COVID-19 affect the lungs and the high level of air pollution may worsen the disease, at times resulting in the death of a patient, said Dr Guleria in an exclusive interview with ANI. The pollution level in Delhi on Friday turned severe on the morning after Diwali due to bursting of firecrackers despite the ban.
Dr Guleria said due to little movement of wind in the air during October and November, burning of stubble and bursting of firecrackers, the pollutants tend to settle on the ground level and so the pollution level rises.
He said, “Respiratory problem is not the only concern during this period. Patients who have a cardiovascular issue, especially those who have underlying lung disease people with chronic bronchitis, COPD, or asthmatic patient also face breathing problem and they have to depend on nebulizer or the usage of inhaler goes up sharply. So it could lead to worsening of underlying respiratory diseases.”
He also spoke about the two sets of data supporting the claim of pollution affecting COVID-19 patients severely. Dr Guleria said, “One data suggests that the virus may stay in the air for a longer period when the pollutants are present in the air, turning the disease into the airborne disease. While the other data which has been analysed during the SARS outbreak in 2003 says that pollution causes inflammation and swelling in the lungs. Research from the SARS outbreak in 2003 in countries like the US and Italy has shown that the areas with higher levels of pollution impact those previously affected by COVID-19, causing inflammation and lung damage. The combination of pollution and COVID-19 could lead to higher fatality rates.”
Air pollution is also dangerous for children’s health. He said, “Before COVID-19, we had done a study on the number of admissions in emergency wards. We had found that whenever the pollution level is high, the patients, especially children, get admitted to emergency wards complaining about respiratory problem.”
Dr Guleria suggested that as a measure of prevention, people should wear masks, especially N95 masks and avoid going to places where the pollution level is high. He said that people should avoid going out for a morning walk when the pollution level is high.

On Diwali, Fardeen Khan Remembers The Lives Lost Due To Covid-19

On the occasion of Diwali, actor Fardeen Khan took a moment to honour and remember the lives lost due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “This Diwali my thoughts are with the families who lost loved ones to Covid 19. It’s during these festivals loved ones are most missed. Along with my love I am sending you my best possible wishes. Happy Diwali.” As per reports, the total death toll in the country is now at 4,59,652.

India witnessed a deadly second wave of COVID-19 in April and May earlier this year, which saw several fatalities.

S Korea reports 2,667 more COVID-19 cases, 370,640 in total

Seoul [South Korea] : South Korea reported 2,667 more cases of COVID-19 as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 370,640.
The daily caseload was up from 1,589 in the previous day, hovering above 1,000 for 120 straight days since July 7. The recent resurgence was attributable to cluster infections in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Of the new cases, 997 were Seoul residents. The number of newly infected people residing in Gyeonggi province and the western port city of Incheon was 895 and 181.
The virus spread also raged in the non-metropolitan region. The number of new infections in the non-capital areas was 567, or 21.5 percent of the total local transmission.
Twenty-seven cases were imported from overseas, lifting the combined figure to 15,150.
Eighteen more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 2,892. The total fatality rate stood at 0.78 percent.
The number of infected people who were in a serious condition rose 31 to 378.
Since the mass vaccination was launched on Feb. 26, the country has administered COVID-19 vaccines to a total of 41,269,453 people, or 80.4 percent of the total population.
The number of fully vaccinated people was 38,895,232, or 75.7 percent of the population.

PM Modi exhorts officials to widen COVID-19 vaccination coverage by year-end

New Delhi [India] : Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday exhorted officials to ensure that the country widens its COVID-19 vaccination coverage by the end of the year and enters the new year with renewed self-belief and confidence.
Immediately after returning from his visit to Italy and Glasgow, the Prime Minister held a review meeting with districts having low vaccination coverage. The meeting included districts with less than 50 per cent coverage of the first dose and low coverage of the second dose of the Covid vaccine. The Prime Minister interacted with District Magistrates of over 40 districts in Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, and other states with districts having low vaccination coverage. As per a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, during the interaction, the Prime Minister discussed the issue of vaccine hesitancy and the local factors behind it in detail. He discussed a wide array of ideas that can be implemented for ensuring 100 per cent vaccination coverage in these districts. The Prime Minister also spoke about maximising community engagement through religious and community leaders.


The District Magistrates gave an account of the issues and challenges being faced in their districts, which has resulted in low vaccination coverage. They highlighted issues like rumours resulting in vaccine hesitancy, difficult terrain, challenges created due to prevailing weather conditions in recent months. They also presented an account of the steps that have been taken by them till now to overcome these challenges. The District Magistrates also shared good practises adopted by them which has led to increase in coverage.
The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan gave an overview of the vaccination coverage in the country. He gave an account of balance vaccine dose availability in the States, and also talked about special vaccination campaigns being run in the States to further improve vaccination coverage.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister thanked the present Chief Ministers and said that their attention will encourage the district to work with more determination.
The Prime Minster said that in this biggest pandemic of the century, the country faced many challenges. He said “One special thing in the country’s fight against Corona was that we found new solutions and tried innovative methods”.
He urged the administrators to work more on new innovative ways to increase vaccination in their districts. He conveyed that even the better performing districts had similar challenges but they were met with determination and innovation.
The Prime Minister asked the officials to develop micro strategies, keeping in mind the experience so far to go for saturation of vaccination by addressing the gaps at local level. He also asked the district officials to make different strategies for each village, each town in the districts, if need be.
In order to increase the vaccination coverage, he suggested this can be done by forming a team of 20-25 people depending on the region. He also suggested trying to have a healthy competition in the teams that you have formed. Exhorting the officials to prepare region-wise timetables for local goals, the Prime Minister said, “You will have to do your best to take your districts nearer the national average.”
The Prime Minister touched upon the issue of rumours and misunderstanding about vaccination. He suggested awareness is the only solution for this and asked the state officials to take help from the religious leaders. The Prime Minister noted that religious leaders are very enthusiastic about the vaccination campaign. PM Modi recalled his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, a few days ago. He urged for a special emphasis on taking the message of religious leaders on vaccines to the public.
The Prime Minister asked the officials to change gears from arrangements made for taking people to the vaccination center and for safe vaccination to administering vaccines from door to door. He urged the health workers to reach every house with passion ‘har ghar tika, ghar ghar tika’ – Vaccine at every doorstep. He also asked to go in the spirit of ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ knocking on every doorstep to ensure full vaccination. “Now we are preparing to take the vaccination campaign to each household. With the mantra of ‘Har Ghar Dastak’, knock on every door, every household lacking the security net of a double dose of vaccine will be approached” he said.
The Prime Minister cautioned that while knocking on every house, equal attention needed to be paid to the second dose as well as the first dose. Because whenever the cases of infection start decreasing, sometimes the feeling of urgency decreases. The urgency in administering the vaccines comes down among the people. “You will have to contact those people who have not taken the second dose despite the stipulated time on a priority basis…ignoring this has created problems for many countries in the world” he alerted.
The Prime Minister emphasised that under the ‘free vaccine for all campaign’, India created a record of administering about 2.5 crore vaccine doses in a day, this feat bears testimony to India’s capabilities, he said. He asked the district officials to learn from good practices of their colleagues in better-performing districts and emphasised approaches suitable for the local needs and the environment should be adopted.

ANI | Updated: Nov 03, 2021 15:16 IST

New Delhi [India], November 3 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday exhorted officials to ensure that the country widens its COVID-19 vaccination coverage by the end of the year and enters the new year with renewed self-belief and confidence.
Immediately after returning from his visit to Italy and Glasgow, the Prime Minister held a review meeting with districts having low vaccination coverage. The meeting included districts with less than 50 per cent coverage of the first dose and low coverage of the second dose of the Covid vaccine. The Prime Minister interacted with District Magistrates of over 40 districts in Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, and other states with districts having low vaccination coverage. As per a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, during the interaction, the Prime Minister discussed the issue of vaccine hesitancy and the local factors behind it in detail. He discussed a wide array of ideas that can be implemented for ensuring 100 per cent vaccination coverage in these districts. The Prime Minister also spoke about maximising community engagement through religious and community leaders.
The District Magistrates gave an account of the issues and challenges being faced in their districts, which has resulted in low vaccination coverage. They highlighted issues like rumours resulting in vaccine hesitancy, difficult terrain, challenges created due to prevailing weather conditions in recent months. They also presented an account of the steps that have been taken by them till now to overcome these challenges. The District Magistrates also shared good practises adopted by them which has led to increase in coverage.
The Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan gave an overview of the vaccination coverage in the country. He gave an account of balance vaccine dose availability in the States, and also talked about special vaccination campaigns being run in the States to further improve vaccination coverage.
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister thanked the present Chief Ministers and said that their attention will encourage the district to work with more determination.
The Prime Minster said that in this biggest pandemic of the century, the country faced many challenges. He said “One special thing in the country’s fight against Corona was that we found new solutions and tried innovative methods”.
He urged the administrators to work more on new innovative ways to increase vaccination in their districts. He conveyed that even the better performing districts had similar challenges but they were met with determination and innovation.
The Prime Minister asked the officials to develop micro strategies, keeping in mind the experience so far to go for saturation of vaccination by addressing the gaps at local level. He also asked the district officials to make different strategies for each village, each town in the districts, if need be.
In order to increase the vaccination coverage, he suggested this can be done by forming a team of 20-25 people depending on the region. He also suggested trying to have a healthy competition in the teams that you have formed. Exhorting the officials to prepare region-wise timetables for local goals, the Prime Minister said, “You will have to do your best to take your districts nearer the national average.”
The Prime Minister touched upon the issue of rumours and misunderstanding about vaccination. He suggested awareness is the only solution for this and asked the state officials to take help from the religious leaders. The Prime Minister noted that religious leaders are very enthusiastic about the vaccination campaign. PM Modi recalled his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, a few days ago. He urged for a special emphasis on taking the message of religious leaders on vaccines to the public.
The Prime Minister asked the officials to change gears from arrangements made for taking people to the vaccination center and for safe vaccination to administering vaccines from door to door. He urged the health workers to reach every house with passion ‘har ghar tika, ghar ghar tika’ – Vaccine at every doorstep. He also asked to go in the spirit of ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ knocking on every doorstep to ensure full vaccination. “Now we are preparing to take the vaccination campaign to each household. With the mantra of ‘Har Ghar Dastak’, knock on every door, every household lacking the security net of a double dose of vaccine will be approached” he said.
The Prime Minister cautioned that while knocking on every house, equal attention needed to be paid to the second dose as well as the first dose. Because whenever the cases of infection start decreasing, sometimes the feeling of urgency decreases. The urgency in administering the vaccines comes down among the people. “You will have to contact those people who have not taken the second dose despite the stipulated time on a priority basis…ignoring this has created problems for many countries in the world” he alerted.
The Prime Minister emphasised that under the ‘free vaccine for all campaign’, India created a record of administering about 2.5 crore vaccine doses in a day, this feat bears testimony to India’s capabilities, he said. He asked the district officials to learn from good practices of their colleagues in better-performing districts and emphasised approaches suitable for the local needs and the environment should be adopted.

There should be no laxity in ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday emphasised on the need to maintain a good pace of COVID-19 vaccine administration and said that there should be no laxity in the ongoing vaccination drive.
The Prime Minister today held a review meeting to discuss the progress of COVID vaccination. “Progress made so far is due to your hard work. Every member of the administration, ASHA workers worked a lot, walked for miles and took vaccination to remote locations. But if we become lax after 1 Billion, a new crisis can come,” the Prime Minister said.
“They say one must never underestimate disease and enemies. They have to be fought against till the very end. So, I would want that there should be no laxity in the ongoing vaccination drive,” he added.
The meeting was held virtually with districts having low COVID-19 vaccination coverage. The meeting included districts with less than 50 per cent coverage of the first dose and low coverage of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccines.
The Prime Minister interacted with District Magistrates of over 40 districts in Jharkhand, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, and other States with districts having low vaccination coverage.

Russia logs 40,443 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

Moscow [Russia] : Russia registered 40,443 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, up from 39,008 the day before, bringing the cumulative total to 8,633,643, the federal response center said on Wednesday.
“Over the past day, 40,443 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 3,452 cases (8.5 per cent) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase grew to 0.47 per cent. Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 6,827 infections, up from 5,736 the day before. The Russian capital is followed by St. Petersburg with 3,269 cases, up from 3,066, and the Moscow region with 2,744 cases, down from 2,893.
The response center reported a new record of 1,189 deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 1,178 the day before, bringing the country’s death toll to 242,060.
In the same 24 hours, 32,807 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 30,905 the day before, bringing the total to 7,445,438.

India reports 11,903 new COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India] : India reported 11,903 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, said the Union Health Ministry.
India’s active caseload stands at 1,51,209, which is the lowest in 252 days. Active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases and is currently at 0.44 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020. With 14,159 recoveries reported in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries reached 3,36,97,740. Consequently, the recovery rate is currently at 98.22 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
The daily positivity rate is 1.11 per cent and it has remained below 2 per cent for last 30 days. The weekly positivity rate is 1.18 per cent, which also remained less than 2 per cent for last 40 days.
As per the ministry, 61.12 crore COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far.
In the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, 107.29 crore vaccine doses have been administered.

PM Modi holds meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Deuba in Glasgow, discusses climate, COVID-19

Glasgow [UK] : Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a bilateral meeting with his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba here on Tuesday and resolved to work together towards post-pandemic recovery.
The two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen the close bilateral ties. It was the first meeting between PM Modi and Deuba since the latter assumed the prime minister’s office. Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs said that the leaders discussed climate and COVID-19.
“PM @narendramodi met PM of Nepal @SherBDeuba today. In their first engagement since PM Deuba assumed office, the two leaders discussed ways to further strengthen our close bilateral ties. Also discussed climate, COVID-19 & resolved to work together toward post-pandemic recovery,” Bagchi said in a tweet.


Earlier in the day, PM Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson launched the initiative Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States (IRIS).
PM Modi reached Glasgow on Sunday to participate in the COP26 summit.
On Tuesday, the Prime Minister is expected to hold several bilateral meetings.
Further, PM Modi is scheduled to attend an event on “Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Development”. He is expected to emplane for New Delhi by tonight.
On Monday, PM Modi met Boris Johnson on the sidelines of COP26. The Prime Minister had said that Johnson accepted his invitation to visit India.
He also met members of the Indian community in Glasgow to strengthen people-to-people bonds between the two countries ahead of his participation in COP26. The summit is taking place under the Presidency of the UK partnering with Italy in Glasgow.

COP26: PM Modi holds talks with Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday held a bilateral meeting with Israeli counterpart Naftali Bennett on the sidelines of the COP26 meet in Glasgow.
Earlier in the day, PM Modi met Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Prime Minister Modi and his British counterpart Boris Johnson today launched the initiative Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States (IRIS).
PM Modi reached Glasgow on Sunday to participate in the COP26 summit.
Today, the Prime Minister is expected to hold bilateral meetings with leaders of Switzerland, Finland, Malawi, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
He is also likely to attend the side event by the United States of America – Build Back Better World. Further, PM Modi is scheduled to attend an event on “Accelerating Clean Technology Innovation and Development”.
The Prime Minister will emplane for Delhi by tonight.


On Monday, PM Modi met Boris Johnson on the sidelines of COP26. He stated that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accepted PM Modi’s invitation to visit India saying that he would plan his visit as soon as the circumstances allow.
He also met members of the Indian community in Glasgow to strengthen people-to-people bonds between the two countries ahead of his participation in the 26th session of the Conference of Parties (COP26).
At COP26, the world leaders are expected to work to achieve the completion of Paris Agreement implementation guidelines, mobilisation of climate finance, actions to strengthen climate adaptation, technology development and transfer and keeping in reach the goals of limiting the rise in global temperatures.
The COP26 is taking place under the Presidency of the UK partnering with Italy. The high-level segment of COP-26 is titled the World Leaders’ Summit (WLS) and the Summit has participation by heads of State/Government of over 120 countries. The Prime Minister is on a two-day visit to participate in the event.

Research Finds How Immune System Gets Altered By Covid-19

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich researchers say that COVID-19 reduces the numbers and functional competence of certain types of immune cells in the blood.

This could affect responses to secondary infections. The findings were published in the journal PLOS Pathogens. The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes moderate to severe disease in 3-10 per cent of those infected. In such cases, the immune system overreacts to the virus, triggering an aberrant innate immune response that is characterized by systemic inflammation, intravascular blood clotting and damage to the cardiovascular system.

A team led by immunology professor Anne Krug at LMU’s Biomedical Center (BMC), which included many researchers based at the BMC and the LMU Medical Center, has carried out a comprehensive study of this phenomenon and uncovered hitherto unknown effects of the virus on the immune system.

In the journal PLOS Pathogens, they report that, following infection with SARS-CoV-2, the numbers of immune cells called dendritic cells in the circulation decline, while the functionality of the remaining fraction is impaired.

The authors believe that this could make patients more susceptible to secondary infections during, and immediately after recovery from a bout of COVID-19.

Dendritic cells (DCs) are responsible for initiating immune responses against invasive pathogens. They do so by activating helper T cells, which in turn stimulate B cells to secrete antibodies directed against the invader. Krug and her colleagues set out to determine the effects of moderate to severe coronavirus infection on this process. They analyzed blood samples obtained from 65 COVID-19 patients who had been treated at the LMU Medical Center.

They found that there were fewer DCs in these samples than in the blood of healthy controls. Furthermore, DCs isolated from the blood of patients showed a reduced ability to activate T cells.
“We had actually expected that DCs isolated from patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 would activate T cells more potently than DCs obtained from healthy donors,” says Krug.

“However, we discovered that, in the course of the disease, the proteins present on the surface of the DCs in patients’ blood were altered in a way that made them more likely to inhibit T cell responses.” In spite of this, by 15 days after diagnosis 90 per cent of these patients had generated antibodies directed against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, and many of them had also activated a T cell response. – these responses are the hallmarks of a robust immune reaction against the virus. “So, the drop in the numbers and reduced functionality of DCs does not seem to have a negative impact on the immune response to the coronavirus itself,” Krug says.

However, she is convinced that the reduced number and altered function of DCs is significant. It is conceivable that this might cause the immune system to react less strongly than expected to bacterial or other viral infections following recovery from COVID-19, but this possibility will require further clinical investigation.

What might account for the depletion of DCs in the blood and the decrease in their capacity to stimulate T cells? – Krug has several hypotheses to offer. It could in fact represent an appropriate regulatory process, she suggests. COVID-19 is often associated with vigorous inflammation reactions – so the phenomenon might be part of an attempt to downregulate inflammatory processes.

Dendritic cells might migrate from the blood into inflamed tissues, such as the lung, which could explain the fall in the numbers of DCs in the circulation. “However, we also found that the regeneration of dendritic cells is delayed,” Krug points out.

The authors of the study believe that this phenomenon could weaken the ability of patients to mount effective immune responses to other pathogens during, and in the immediate aftermath of asymptomatic COVID-19 infection. The team will now explore this issue further in an effort to determine whether the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on DCs play a role in long-term COVID.

Russia reports 40,993 new COVID-19 cases

Moscow [Russia] : Russia has registered 40,993 daily new COVID-19 cases and 1,158 coronavirus-related deaths, the federal response center said on Sunday.
In the past 24 hours, 27,115 recoveries have been registered across the country. Moscow recorded 7,603 new cases, which marks the highest number of new cases among the Russian regions.

Jon Bon Jovi Tests Positive For Covid-19, Cancels Miami Performance

American singer and guitarist Jon Bon Jovi has tested positive for COVID-19, forcing the cancellation of his performance in Miami Beach.

A representative for the musician confirmed the positive test, telling Variety, “Jon is fully vaccinated and feeling fine.” A local Miami news report first broke the news of his COVID status. Bon Jovi was due to appear at the Loews South Beach on Collins Avenue and 16th Street on Saturday night for a fan event. The crowd had already filed in for the event when audience members were informed that the singer would be unable to perform. Backed by the group Kings of Suburbia, the band did not play out of an abundance of caution.

The event, called ‘Runaway With JBJ’ and put on by Runaway Tours, was scheduled for October 29 to 31 and included an acoustic storyteller performance, Q&A and photo-op with Jon, in addition to a Halloween costume welcome party.

This isn’t the first time COVID has affected Bon Jovi. Keyboardist Dave Bryan was diagnosed with COVID-19 early in the pandemic and Jon Bon Jovi himself participated in last year’s ‘Mask Up’ campaign, alongside New Jersey native sons Bruce Springsteen and Jon Stewart, spearheaded by New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy and the NJ Pandemic Relief Fund.

Some 30 billboards were displayed across the state, with a mission, “to help the most vulnerable New Jersey populations affected during COVID from mental health issues to digital divide issues to food insecurity.”

As per Variety, prior to his COVID diagnosis, Bon Jovi had recently made a stop at his Soul Kitchen in Red Bank on October 24.

Researchers Identify Potential New Treatment For Covid-19

Researchers during a recent study identified a potential new treatment that suppresses the replication of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

In order to multiply, all viruses, including coronaviruses, infect cells and reprogramme them to produce novel viruses. The study ‘Targeting the pentose phosphate pathway for SARS-CoV-2 therapy’ has been published by the scientific journal Metabolite. The research revealed that cells infected with SARS-CoV-2 can only produce novel coronaviruses when their metabolic pentose phosphate pathway is activated.
When applying the drug benfooxythiamine, an inhibitor of this pathway, SARS-CoV-2 replication was suppressed and infected cells did not produce coronaviruses.

The research from the University of Kent’s School of Biosciences and the Institute of Medical Virology at Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, found the drug also increased the antiviral activity of ‘2-deoxy-D-glucose’; a drug which modifies the host cell’s metabolism to reduce virus multiplication.

This shows that pentose phosphate pathway inhibitors like benfooxythiamine are a potential new treatment option for COVID-19, both on their own and in combination with other treatments.

Additionally, Benfooxythiamin’s antiviral mechanism differs from that of other COVID-19 drugs such as remdesivir and molnupiravir. Therefore, viruses resistant to these may be sensitive to benfooxythiamin.
Professor Martin Michaelis, University of Kent, said, “This is a breakthrough in the research of COVID-19 treatment. Since resistance development is a big problem in the treatment of viral diseases, having therapies that use different targets is very important and provides further hope for developing the most effective treatments for COVID-19.”

“Targeting virus-induced changes in the host cell metabolism is an attractive way to interfere specifically with the virus replication process,” added Professor Jindrich Cinatl from Goethe-University Frankfurt

India reports 14,313 new Covid-19 cases in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India]n: A total of 14,313 new Covid-19 cases and 549 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family welfare on Saturday.
Also, 13,543 people recovered from Covid-19 taking the overall recovery count (since the beginning of the pandemic) to 3,36,41,175. “The Active Caseload is presently at 1,61,555. Active cases presently constitute 0.47% of the country’s total Positive Cases, which is lowest since March 2020,” said the medical bulletin.
Meanwhile, India administered 56.71 lakh vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s cumulative vaccination coverage over 105.43 cr, as per the official release.
“The last 24 hours saw a total of 11,76,850 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 60.70 Cr (60,70,62,619) cumulative tests,” said the official release.

India reports 14,348 COVID-19 new cases in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 14,348 COVID-19 new cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family welfare on Friday.
With this India’s active caseload stands at 1,61,334. Active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.47 per cent, the lowest since March 2020. The country also registered 13,198 new recoveries in the last 24 hours, taking the recovery rate to 98.19 per cent.
India has so far conducted over 60.58 crore COVID-19 tests.
Meanwhile, more than 104.82 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive

Russia records 39,849 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

Moscow [Russia] : Russia registered 39,849 COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from the record 40,096 the day before, bringing the cumulative total to 8,432,546, the federal response center said on Friday.
“Over the past day, 39,849 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 3,442 cases (8.6%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase fell to 0.47%. Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 7,511 infections, down from 8,440 the day before. The Russian capital is followed by St. Petersburg with 3,452 cases, up from 3,186, and the Moscow region with 2,556 cases, down from 2,639.
The response center reported a new single-day record of 1,163 deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 1,159 the day before, bringing the country’s death toll to 236,220.
In the same 24 hours, 30,462 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 29,318 the day before, bringing the total to 7,302,515.

S Korea to launch ‘living with COVID-19’ guideline in November

Seoul [South Korea] : South Korea planned to launch the so-called “living with COVID-19” guideline from next month as the full vaccination rate topped the key precondition of 70 per cent, the health ministry said Friday.
Starting from November 1, the business hour restrictions on all multiuse facilities, including restaurants and cafes, will be lifted except for nightlife entertainment facilities such as nightclubs, according to the Ministry of Health and Welfare. Under the first phase of the three-stage “living with COVID-19” scheme, nightlife facilities will be allowed to operate until midnight.
Currently, restaurants and cafes are allowed to open until 10:00 p.m. local time in the Seoul metropolitan area, while the business hour was limited to midnight in other parts of the country.
Under the new guideline, the maximum number of private gatherings will be raised to 10 people in the metropolitan area regardless of the vaccination from the current eight.
In the non-metropolitan regions, the number will be increased to 12 people from the current 10.
For those who have yet to be fully vaccinated, up to four people will be allowed to gather at restaurants and cafes where people have to take off masks for eating and drinking.
The so-called “vaccine pass” system will be introduced with a grace period to require people to show a vaccination certificate or a negative test result when visiting risky facilities, including nightlife facilities, karaoke, public bathhouse, indoor sports facilities, racecourse, bicycle race track and casino as well as medical institutions.
The eased antivirus measures came as the country’s full vaccination rate surpassed 70 per cent of the population.
In the latest tally, the country reported 2,124 more cases of COVID-19 for the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of infections to 360,536. The daily caseload hovered above 1,000 for 115 days since July 7.
The first phase of the new guideline will be maintained for six weeks. Under the second phase, the operating hour restriction on nightlife entertainment facilities will be lifted.
Under the third phase, the limit on the number of private gatherings will be removed.

PM Modi underlines ASEAN’s centrality in India’s vision of Indo-Pacific

New Delhi [India] : Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 18th ASEAN-India summit underlined the bloc’s centrality in India’s vision of the Indo-Pacific and noted that partnership with the grouping is a key pillar of India’s Act East Policy, said Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary-East, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
Speaking after the conclusion of the virtually held ASEAN-India summit, the Secretary-East said the annual summit provides an opportunity for all sides to engage at the highest level. “Speaking at the summit, PM Modi underlined ASEAN’s centrality in India’s vision of the Indo Pacific. He noted that partnership with ASEAN is a key pillar of India’s act east policy. And united and prosperous ASEAN is central for security and growth for all in the region…,” she said at a press conference.
“Over the past three decades, starting from 1992, India-ASEAN engagement has evolved into a deep, robust and multi-faceted partnership,” she added.
Exchanging views on COVID-19, the PM laid stress on the need to leverage strong India-ASEAN ties in the fight against the pandemic, Riva Ganguly said.


Addressing the Summit via video conferencing, PM Modi said India-ASEAN cooperation in the COVID era will keep strengthening relations in the future and form a base for goodwill between the two sides. “Due to COVID-19, all of us had to face a lot of challenges, this challenging time was also a test of the India-ASEAN friendship.”
He also focussed upon the historical ties between India and ASEAN, their shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture, food and drink.
“History is witness that India and ASEAN have had vibrant relations for thousands of years. Their glimpses show our shared values, traditions, languages, texts, architecture, culture, food and drink. And that is why the unity and centrality of ASEAN has always been an important priority for India,” said the Prime Minister.
On the occasion of 30 years of India-ASEAN partnership, PM Modi said that this important milestone will be celebrated as ‘ASEAN-India Friendship Year’.

PM Modi to be in Rome from Oct 29 to 31: Foreign Secretary Shringla

New Delhi [India] : Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Thursday informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Rome, Italy from October 29 to October 31 to attend the G20 Summit at the invitation of Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
Addressing the special briefing on PM Modi’s visit to Rome, the Foreign Secretary informed that this summit will be the eighth G20 Summit attended by the Prime Minister, adding that last year’s summit hosted by Saudi Arabia was held virtually because of the COVID pandemic. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Rome, Italy from October 29 to 31. He would be in Rome to attend the G20 Summit at the invitation of Italy’s Prime Minister. This would be his eighth G20 Summit. Last year’s summit hosted by Saudi Arabia was held virtually because of the COVID pandemic,” he said today.


PM Modi is scheduled to attend the 16th edition of the G20 summit in Rome, Italy and will attend the World Leaders’ Summit of the COP26 in Glasgow after that. He is expected to pitch for collective measures to deal with the situation in Afghanistan.
G20 is a global forum whose members account for more than 80 per cent of global GDP, 75 per cent of global trade and 60 per cent population.
The theme of this G20 meet under the Italian Presidency is centred around ‘People, Planet and Prosperity.’
The summit is being attended by heads of state/government of G20 member countries, the European Union and other invited countries and international organisations

Maharashtra Home Minister tests positive for COVID-19

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], : Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil on Thursday informed that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
“After experiencing mild symptoms I decided to get tested for COVID-19. I have tested positive. My condition is stable and I am following my doctor’s advice. I urge all those who came in contact with me during Nagpur and Amravati tour, and other programs, to get themselves tested,” Patil said in a tweet. Meanwhile, India reported 16,156 new COVID-19 cases and 733 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday. The active caseload of the infection in the country stands at 1,60,98.

Over 103.53 cr COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India so far

New Delhi [India] : With the administration of 55,89,124 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 103.53 crore, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.
As per provisional reports till 7 am today, 1,03,53,25,577 vaccine doses were administered through 1,02,95,714 sessions. Meanwhile, India reported 13,451 new COVID-19 cases and 585 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative tally to 3,42,15,653.
With this, the country’s active caseload stands at 1,62,661, which is the lowest in 242 days.
The active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases and is currently at 0.48 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020.
The country also reported 14,021 recoveries in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s recovery rate to 98.19 per cent, which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
India has also ramped up testing capacity and has so far tested 60.32 crore samples for COVID-19.

Approval for Covaxin on basis of WHO meeting today: Mansukh Mandaviya

New Delhi [India] : Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday said that approval for Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin will be given on the basis of the meeting which will be convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) today.
“WHO has a system in which there is a technical committee which has approved it (Covaxin) while the other committee is meeting today. The approval for Covaxin will be given on the basis of today’s meeting,” said Union Health Minister during a press briefing here. Earlier this month, WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan had said that WHO’s technical advisory group will meet on October 26 to consider emergency use listing (EUL) for Covaxin.
The WHO last week had said a vaccine recommended by it for emergency use must be evaluated thoroughly.
“We are aware that many people are waiting for WHO’s recommendation for Covaxin to be included in the COVID19 Emergency Use Listing, but we cannot cut corners – before recommending a product for emergency use, we must evaluate it thoroughly to make sure it is safe and effective,” the organisation had said.
The WHO had said that the timeframe for the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure depends on how quickly a company producing the vaccine is able to provide the required data.
“The timeframe for the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure is dependent on how quickly a company producing the vaccine is able to provide the data required for WHO to evaluate the vaccine’s quality, safety, efficacy and its suitability for low- and middle-income countries,” it said.
Bharat Biotech has been submitting data to WHO on a rolling basis and submitted additional information at WHO’s request on September 27.
Covaxin, India’s first indigenous COVID-19 vaccine, has been developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

India logs 12,428 new COVID-19 cases, lowest in 238 days

New Delhi [India] : India logged 12,428 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest in 238 days, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday.
The country’s active caseload stands at 1,63,816, which is the lowest in 241 days. The active cases account for less than 1 per cent of total cases and are currently at 0.48 per cent, which is the lowest since March 2020.
With 15,951 recoveries in the last 24 hours, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.19 per cent, which is the highest since the beginning of the pandemic.
Also, the weekly positivity rate is at 1.24 per cent while the daily positivity rate remained at 1.10 per cent.
The country has so far conducted over 60.19 crore COVID tests.
Meanwhile, under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive, more than 102.94 crore vaccine doses have been administered in the country.

India reports 15,906 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 15,906 new COVID-19 cases and 16,479 recoveries in the past 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family welfare on Sunday.
With this, the active caseload of the country now stands at 1,72,594 in the country, which is the lowest in 235 days. The country’s active cases account for 0.51 per cent of the total cases reported so far, which is the lowest since March 2020.
With a total of 16,479 new recoveries, the overall recovery rate stands at 3,35,48,605 which has been increased from 98.16 per cent to 98.17 per cent.
The weekly positivity rate is 1.23 per cent while the daily positivity rate stands at 1.19 per cent.
As per the health ministry, 59.97 crore samples have been tested for the presence of the virus so far.
Meanwhile, over 102.10 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.

Singapore to allow travelers from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Singapore on Saturday eased travel restrictions caused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resumed entry of travellers from Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka to visit the nation.

Singapore : “We had previously announced that all travellers with a 14-day travel history to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore. We have reviewed the COVID-19 situation in these countries, and all travellers with a 14-day travel history to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka prior to departure to Singapore will be allowed to enter and transit through Singapore from 26 October 2021, 23:59 hours,” said the Ministry of Health (MOH) advisory. These travellers will be subject to Category IV border measures. All travellers from Category II non-Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)), III and IV countries will no longer need to undergo an on-arrival Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, and will only undergo an end of Stay-Home Notice (SHN) exit PCR test, read the MOH statement.
Meanwhile, all travellers from Category III countries/regions will serve their 10-day SHN at their declared place of residence/accommodation regardless of the travellers’ and their household members’ vaccination status and travel history.
By default, they will not be allocated accommodation in any dedicated SHN facilities. Returning residents should ensure that alternative accommodation is secured prior to their return if their homes are unsuitable for their SHN. Travellers from Category IV countries/regions will still be required to serve their 10-day SHN at dedicated SHN facilities, read the statement.
Along with it, the MOH also allowed necessary workers and students to enter Singapore’s borders in a safe and calibrated manner from 1 November 2021, on the condition that they are fully vaccinated before arrival.
As part of this move, Singapore will facilitate the entry of more domestic workers, to meet the urgent domestic and caregiving needs of local households, while regulating the numbers carefully as the global situation evolves.

India logs fresh 16,326 COVID cases, over 17,000 recoveries in 24 hours

New Delhi [ India ] : India recorded 16,326 new cases of the novel coronavirus, along with 666 deaths due to the infection in the past 24 hours. According to the data shared by the Union Health Ministry on Saturday, the country saw a total of 17,677 discharges in the last 24 hours, taking the total recovery rate at around 98.16 per cent which is the highest since March 2020 and total recoveries data reached to 3,35,32,126. The total active cases of COVID-19 in India slightly dipped to 1,73,728, the ministry data showed.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 59,84,31,162 samples have been tested up to October 22 for COVID-19. Of these 13,64,681 samples were tested on Friday.

The total death toll in the country is now at 4,53,708. In India, the first death due to COVID pandemic was reported in March 2020.

Meanwhile, the cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country surpassed the 100-crore milestone on Thursday. According to official sources, around 75 per cent of India’s all eligible adult population has been administered at least the first dose and around 31 per cent has received both the doses of the vaccine.

India took 85 days to touch the 10-crore vaccination mark, 45 more days to cross the 20-crore mark and 29 more days to reach the 30-crore mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data. 

Also, Kerala logged 9,361 new COVID cases and 99 deaths on Friday, pushing the infection count to 48,88,678 and the death toll to 27,765. According to a release, 9,401 people recuperated from the disease today, taking the total cured in the state to 47,88,629.

“Currently there are 80,892 active COVID-19 cases of which only 9.8 per cent are hospitalised,” State Health Minister Veena George said in a release.

India reports 15,786 new COVID-19 infections in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 15,786 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare informed on Friday.
Of these new infections, Kerala reported 8,733 COVID-19 cases. At present, India’s caseload of active cases stands at 1,75,745 that is the lowest in 232 days. Active cases account for less than 1 per cent of the total cases in the country, currently at 0.51 per cent. It is the lowest since March 2020.
The country reported 18,641 new recoveries from Coronavirus in the last 24 hours thereby increasing the total recoveries to 3,35,14,449. With this, the country’s recovery rate is currently at 98.16 per cent and is the highest since March 2020.
Further, the country added 231 deaths in the last 24 hours. Of this, Kerala reported 118 deaths due to Coronavirus infections.
Of the 59.70 crore total tests conducted so far to detect the presence of Coronavirus in individuals, a daily positivity rate of 1.19 per cent was observed that is less than 3 per cent for the last 53 days in the country.
As far as the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive is concerned, 100.59 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far.

UK records more than 50,000 new coronavirus cases

Another 52,009 people in Britain have tested positive for COVID-19, marking the first time that figure has been above 50,000 since July 17, according to official figures released Thursday.

London [UK] : The latest figure came after more than 40,000 daily cases of COVID-19 were reported for eight consecutive days, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 8,641,221. The country also reported a further 115 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 139,146. These figures only include the deaths of people who died within 28 days of their first positive test.
There are currently 8,142 patients in hospital with COVID-19.
Meanwhile, separate figures published by the Office for National Statistics showed there have now been 162,620 deaths registered in Britain where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted that the level of COVID cases is “high” and he is “watching the numbers very carefully every day”.
However, he has insisted he is “sticking with our plan”. The British government has so far resisted calls to move to Plan B of its autumn and winter COVID response for easing pressures on the National Health Service (NHS).
Speaking at a Downing Street news conference on Wednesday, Health Secretary Sajid Javid cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic “is not over”. Javid has even predicted there could be as many as 100,000 COVID cases a day heading into winter.
Britain has lifted most COVID restrictions thanks to the progress of its vaccine rollout.
More than 86 percent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and around 79 percent have received both doses, the latest figures showed.
To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.

100 cr vaccination mark : WHO chief congratulates PM Modi, scientists, health workers for efforts

Geneva [Switzerland] : As India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive achieved another milestone with a cumulative administration of over 100 crore vaccine doses on Thursday, World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi, along with scientists, health workers and people of India for efforts to protect people from coronavirus.
“Congratulations, Prime Minister @narendramodi, the scientists, #healthworkers and people of #India, on your efforts to protect the vulnerable populations from #COVID19 and achieve #VaccinEquity targets,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet. In a landmark achievement, India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage crossed 100 crore doses on Thursday.
A total of 100 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far to eligible beneficiaries, as per the CoWIN portal at 9:47 am today.
India’s COVID-19 vaccination drive was launched on January 16, 2021. Initially, the vaccination was opened for Health Care Workers (HCWs) only.
From February 2, front line workers were made eligible for vaccination. These included state and Central Police personnel, Armed Force Personnel, Home Guards, Civil Defence and Disaster Management Volunteers, Municipal workers, Prison Staff, PRI Staff and Revenue workers involved in containment and surveillance, Railway Protection Force and election Staff.
The vaccination drive was expanded from March 1 to include persons above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with associated specified 20 comorbidities. It was further expanded to all people above 45 years of age from April 1. From May 1 all persons above 18 years of age were made eligible for COVID-19 vaccination

India achieves 100 cr COVID-19 vaccination mark

New Delhi [India] : With an uptick in the world’s largest vaccination drive against COVID-19, India on Thursday crossed inoculation of 100 crore vaccine doses, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The 100-crore milestone was achieved in about 10 months after the inoculation drive was launched on January 16. The aim of the Government of India is to fully vaccinate the country’s entire adult population by December this year. India has administered more vaccine doses than any other country in the world apart from China.
Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday congratulated the nation after India crossed the 100 crore inoculation mark. “Congratulations India! This is the result of the able leadership of visionary Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Mansukh Mandaviya posted on Twitter.
As of October 16, more than 97.65 crore vaccine doses were administered to over 69.47 crore people. More than 28.18 crore people are fully vaccinated by then.
This means that 74 per cent, or close to three-fourths, of the adult population in India, have received at least one dose, while 30 per cent have got both doses, reported Health Ministry data.
While critics cried over the slow vaccination rate, India become the fastest in the world to administer 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccines in 85 days.
As per the Health Ministry, it took the United States 85 days to administer 92.09 million doses, while China’s vaccination coverage was 61.42 million.
Moreover, the sheer speed, scale, and safety with which the drive has been conducted have made the entire world take notice.
If we compare India’s vaccination rate vis-s-vis the world, India alone administered a record 180 million doses in the month of August, more than what all G7 nations put together did during the month.
While India managed to administer 180 million doses, Japan jabbed 40 million, the US vaccinated 23 million, France 13 million, Germany nine million, Italy eight million, UK five million, and Canada around three million.
Moreover, India has administered most vaccine doses after China. As per Health Ministry’s August data, India has been vaccinating nearly 64 lakh people per day, which is more than the entire population of over 120 countries.
India stands at number two globally in terms of total doses administered, second to China, followed by the US, Brazil, and Japan.
Population-wise, India has administered 49 doses per 100 people while the same figure is above 100 for every G7 nation — Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
Similarly, every G7 nation with the exception of Japan has fully vaccinated over half their eligible population while India has covered only over 11 per cent, according to Health Ministry August data.
India also has managed to outpace the biggest economy of the world – the US by administering more than twice the number of doses it has done so far despite starting a month after America began its drive.
In the last week, an average of 948,921 doses per day was administered in the US whereas India administered an average of about 60 lakh doses per day, reported Health Ministry.
Around 83.9 per cent of the eligible population has taken one dose in the US. India too is not lagging behind in this and has done equally good by administering 71 per cent of its adult population with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
It’s only the humongous size of its population that put India at a natural disadvantage when it comes to other nations otherwise New Delhi has made impressive strides in its vaccination drive.
India’s vaccination drive began on January 16. The Indian government started the ‘biggest vaccination drive in the world’ by first targeting 30 million front-line workers including health care professionals.
The drive was opened for people above 60 years and those over 45 with comorbidities from 1st March 2021. Gradually the vaccination drive has been opened for everyone above the age of 18.
The second phase of the nationwide vaccination drive started on April 2, where all people above 45 years became eligible for the vaccine.
Also, India is close to achieving the historic milestone of administering 100 crore COVID-19 vaccination doses in record time.
As of date, India is using three vaccines against COVID-19 in its immunization drive. These include Covishield (Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India), Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech Limited) and Sputnik V (developed by Gamaleya Research Institute, Russia). All are two-shot vaccines.
Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has also granted Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to three other vaccines by Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and Zydus Cadila.
The Indian government through its largest vaccination drive aims to target 100 per cent adult coverage by the end of this year.
With a third wave predicted for India any time between August and December, vaccination against the COVID-19 pandemic is the only way to protect the people from severe infections and hospitalisations.

UK Health Minister warns COVID-19 cases could rise to 1,00,000 a Day

London [UK] : UK Health Minister, Sajid Javid, warned on Wednesday that COVID-19 cases could rise to 100,000 a day in the United Kingdom, but stressed that the government will not reintroduce any coronavirus restriction for now.
“Cases are rising. They could go yet as high as 1,00,000 a day. This pandemic is not over,” Javid said during a televised press briefing from 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the British Prime Minister. The health secretary said, however, that despite the current rise in positive cases, COVID-19-related deaths, and the increasing pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), no contingency measure will be enacted at this moment.
“We are looking closely at the data, we are not implementing Plan B at this point,” he said.
Earlier, the head of the NHS Confederation, Matthew Taylor, urged the government to reintroduce some anti-COVID-19 measures, such as mandatory mask-wearing in crowded places, working from home, and a ban on unnecessary indoor gatherings, as hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed ahead of winter.
Javid put emphasis, instead, on the successful rollout of the vaccination campaign that has seen over 45 million people fully vaccinated since December 2020.
He also announced that the government has secured deals with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Merck for two antiviral drugs, to provide treatment for COVID-19 and tackle the surge over winter.

China’s Gansu province reports 4 confirmed COVID-19 cases

Gansu [China] : Northwest China’s Gansu Province reported four new locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The four people, three from the provincial capital Lanzhou and one from the city of Zhangye, are all close contacts of a previously confirmed case, according to a statement from the provincial health commission. The province has registered a total of eight locally transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and two asymptomatic cases since new local infections were reported Tuesday.
On Wednesday, local authorities temporarily closed three popular grottoes including a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mogao Grottoes, to visitors in efforts to contain the spread of infections.

Pakistan records 554 new COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths

Pakistan added 554 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) said on Wednesday.

Islamabad [Pakistan] : The overall tally of the infected people climbed to 1,266,204 across the country, said the NCOC, the department leading Pakistan’s campaign against the pandemic. A total of 28,312 people died of COVID-19 in Pakistan, including 12 patients who lost their lives to the pandemic over the last 24 hours, the NCOC said.
Pakistan’s southern Sindh province has been the worst hit with a total of 466,432 cases, followed by eastern Punjab province where the virus was detected in 438,271 people.
Over the last 24 hours, 977 patients have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 1,212,687, said the NCOC.

Israel detects 1st case of COVID-19 Delta variant “AY4.2”

: The first case of the new COVID-19 Delta variant “AY4.2” was detected in Israel on Tuesday, the country’s Ministry of Health said.

Jerusalem [Israel] : This is the variant that was previously detected in several European countries, the ministry noted. It was diagnosed in an 11-year-old boy, who underwent a coronavirus test at Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv, upon his return from Moldova.
The ministry added that the epidemiological investigation is being conducted, and all types of COVID-19 variants and their development are being constantly monitored in the country.
Also on Tuesday, the ministry reported 1,487 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total tally of infections in the country to 1,319,001.
The death toll from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 11 to 8,021, while the number of patients in serious condition decreased from 357 to 353.
The total recoveries from the virus climbed to 1,293,854 after 1,750 newly recovered cases were recorded, while active cases decreased to 17,126.

Russia registers 33,740 COVID-19 cases in past 24 hours

Moscow [Russia] : Russia registered 33,740 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, down from 34,325 the day before, bringing the cumulative total to 8,060,752, the federal response center said on Tuesday.
“Over the past day, 33,740 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 2,492 cases (7.4%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase fell to 0.42%. Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 5,700 infections, down from 6,823 the day before. The Russian capital is followed by St. Petersburg with 3,220 cases, up from 3,097, and the Moscow region with 2,955 cases, up from 2,768.
The response center reported a new record of 1,015 deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 998 the day before, bringing the country’s death toll to 225,325.
In the same 24 hours, 23,426 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, up from 16,431 the day before, bringing the total to 7,040,481.

Over 11 lakh COVID-19 tests conducted in India in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : Over 11 lakh COVID-19 tests were conducted in the country in the last 24 hours, informed the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday.
With 11,81,314 samples tested on Monday to detect the presence of the virus, 59,31,06,188 COVID-19 tests have been conducted in the country so far. Meanwhile, the Health Ministry on Monday informed that India reported 13,058 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, which is the lowest in 231 days.
With this, the active caseload in the country stands at 1,83,118, which is also the lowest in 227 days.
Also, 98.67 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under nationwide vaccination drive.

Russia sees new record of 34,325 daily COVID-19 cases

Moscow [Russia] : Russia confirmed a new record high of 34,325 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, up from 34,303 the day before, bringing the cumulative total to 8,027,012, the federal response center said on Monday.
“Over the past day, 34,325 COVID-19 cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 2,821 cases (8.2%) without clinical symptoms,” the center said, adding that the rate of increase exceeds 0.43%. Moscow has the highest number of new cases with 6,823 infections, up from 6,740 the day before. The Russian capital is followed by St. Petersburg with 3,097 cases, down from 3,323, and the Moscow region with 2,768 cases, up from 2,759.
The response center reported 998 deaths linked to the coronavirus, up from 997 the day before, bringing the country’s death toll to 224,310.
In the same 24 hours, 16,431 COVID-19 patients were discharged from hospitals across the country, down from 18,717 the day before, bringing the total to 7,017,055.

India reports 14,146 new COVID-19 cases, 19,788 recoveries in last 24 hours

New Delhi [India] : India reported 14,146 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday.
The daily infection count is lowest in 229 days marking the daily positivity rate at 1.29 per cent. The new cases pushed the cumulative number of COVID cases in the country to 3,40,67,719.
As many as 19,788 patients have been recovered in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 3,34,19,749. The current recovery rate is 98.10 per cent, the highest since March 2020
Meanwhile, the country’s active caseload stands at 1,95,846 which is said to be the lowest in 220 days.
As many as 4,52,124 people succumbed to COVID in the country so far.
A total of 59,09,35,381 COVID tests have been conducted in the country including 11,00,123 tests conducted on Saturday.
Meanwhile, in the nationwide COVID vaccination drive, 97,65,89,540 doses have been administered so far, including 41,20,772 doses in the last 24 hours.

India reports continuous rise in COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India] : India has reported 15,981 new COVID-19 cases and 166 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Union Health Ministry on Saturday.
With the addition of new cases, India’s active caseload now stands at 2,01,632. The cumulative cases registered since the onset of the pandemic reached 3,40,53,573. With 17,861 recoveries in the last 24 hours, total recoveries jumped to 3,33,99,961.
As many as 4,51,980 have succumbed to the virus till now.
Meanwhile, in the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, 97,23,77,045 vaccine doses have been administered. Of these, 8,36,118 were administered in the last 24 hours.

Aryan Speaks to parents via video call

Aryan Khan, who was arrested in connection with the drugs-on-cruise case, spoke to his parents Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan via video call from inside Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail on Friday, informed jail officials.

New Delhi [India], October 15 ): According to the order of the High Court, all the accused or prisoners who are logged in the jail amid COVID-19 can talk to their family members twice a week via video call. “Aryan was on the call for 10 minutes with his parents, and a jail official was present with him during the call,” said the official.
There are a total of 3,200 prisoners in the Arthur Road jail. As per the guidelines of the jail amid the pandemic, people are not allowed to visit the inmates. They can only speak to them over the phone.
Inmates are allowed 10 minutes to talk to their family members.
The jail has a total of 11 phones. The family members of prisoners who have a video call facility are given 10 minutes on video call otherwise a voice call is dialled.
Aryan on October 11 had received a money order of Rs 4,500, which is meant for his expenses in the jail canteen.
As per the rules of the jail, a prisoner can receive a money order of Rs 4500 maximum for their expenses inside the jail.
Aryan and five other accused, who were arrested by Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) in connection with the cruise ship drug raid case, were shifted to the common cell of Arthur Road Jail after their Covid report came negative.
They were earlier lodged at the quarantine barrack of the Arthur Road Jail here.
An NCB team busted an alleged drugs party on the Cordelia Cruise ship which was on its way to Goa at mid-sea on October 2.
A total of 20 people, including two Nigerian nationals, have been arrested so far in the case related to the seizure of drugs following a raid at a party on the Cordelia cruise ship off the Mumbai coast on October 2.

Odisha: Classes 11, 8 to reopen from Oct 21, Oct 25

Bhubaneswar (Odisha) : After festive series gets over, Odisha government has decided to reopen physical classes for standard 11 and 8 from October 21 and October 25 respectively, said the School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash on Friday.
“We will conduct a meeting with the district education officers (DEOs) in this regard tomorrow and issue instructions to them to initiate preparations for the commencement of classes for students of Class 8 and 11,” said Dash. “The guidelines that have been issued for classes 9th, 10th and 12th, the same guideline and the protocols would be adhered by the schools after the classes for 8 and 11 reopen,” added Dash.
Odisha government decided to reopen schools for Classes 10 and 12 students from July 26.
Prior to the reopening of the schools for classes 10 and 12, the government has decided to vaccinate all teachers against COVID-19 on priority and district education officers have been instructed to ensure that COVID guidelines are followed.

India logs 16,862 new COVID-19 cases, 379 fatalities

India reported 16,862 new COVID-19 cases and 379 fatalities in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) on Friday.

New Delhi [India], October 15 : Of these, 9,246 new COVID-19 cases and 96 deaths were reported in Kerala on Thursday. With the addition of new cases, the total cases reported across the country since the onset of the pandemic reached 3,40,37,592. Of these, 2,03,678 are active cases, the lowest in 216 days. The active cases account for less than one per cent of total cases. Currently, it is at 0.60 per cent, the lowest since March 2020.
As per data released by the ministry, Kerala has the highest active caseload with 96,421.
With 19,391 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the total recovery count touched 3,33,82,100. Consequently, the recovery rate is at 98.07 per cent, the highest since March 2020. The death toll has jumped to 4,51,814.
India has a weekly positivity rate of 1.42 per cent, which remained less than three per cent for the last 112 days. The daily positivity rate also remained below three per cent for the last 46 days at 1.43 per cent.
To tackle the infection, in the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, over 97.14 crore (97,14,38,553) vaccine doses have been administered so far as per provisional report till 7 am today. In the last 24 hours, 30,26,483 doses were inoculated to eligible beneficiaries.
The last 24 hours saw a total of 11,80,148 COVID-19 tests being conducted in the country. India has so far conducted over 58.88 crores (58,88,44,673) cumulative tests.
As per the ministry, more than 100 crore (1,00,35,96,665) vaccine doses have been provided to States and union territories (UTs) so far through the Government of India (free of cost channel) and through the direct state procurement category.
More than 10.53 crore (10,53,11,155) balance and unutilised COVID vaccine doses are still available with the States/UTs to be administered, said the ministry. (

India’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination coverage reaches 97 cr

New Delhi [India], October 14 : India’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination coverage on Thursday reached 97 crores, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Meanwhile, India reported 18,987 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, said Union Health Ministry on Thursday. With 19,808 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries climbed to 3,33,62,709. Currently, India has 2,06,586 active cases of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday informed that a total of 13,01,083 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. With this, the total samples tested up to October 13 touched 58,76,64,525.

WHO: Mortality from COVID-19 around the world dropped to lowest level

The number of weekly coronavirus deaths worldwide continues to decline and is now at its lowest level in nearly a year.

Geneva [Switzerland], October 14 : This was announced on Wednesday at a briefing in Geneva by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, quoted by TASS. “The number of reported deaths from COVID-19 continues to decline and is now at its lowest level in nearly a year,” he said. However, this number is still unacceptably high – almost 50 thousand cases per week, and the real number is undoubtedly even higher,” said the head of the WHO.
“Mortality is declining in all regions except Europe, where several countries are facing new waves of disease and death,” Gebreyesus said, stressing that mortality is highest in countries and populations that “have the least access.” to vaccines against COVID-19 ‘.
To date, the WHO has reported 238,229,951 cases of coronavirus infection worldwide since the beginning of the pandemic and 4,859,277 deaths.

No chief guest for RSS event

With protocols in place due to the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has decided not to invite any guest for the annual Vijayadashmi address by its Sarsanghchalak for the second consecutive year.

New Delhi [India], October 12 : Just like last year, the festive occasion will only be addressed by RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. According to a senior functionary of RSS, the ground that is normally flooded by swayamsewaks clad in white shirts and brown colour trousers, will witness not more than 500 people.
Last year, this number was confined to 50 RSS cadres.
“With a slightly better situation this time, we will have 500 people spread in the ground. The speech of RSS chief will be broadcast live on social media,” the functionary said.
Another senior RSS functionary said there is a discussion for getting permission for smaller groups to watch the address on LED screens at 40 different locations in Nagpur.
In the previous years, the Vijayadashami programme has witnessed the presence of several prominent personalities including former President Pranab Mukherjee, HCL chief Shiv Nadar and child rights activist and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi. 

Validation awaited to Covaxin for children aged between 2-18 years

New Delhi [India] : After the evaluation of data Covaxin is yet to get approval by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for children between 2-18 years old, according to official sources.
Bharat Biotech, the manufacturer of Covaxin, has submitted data for clinical trials in the age group of 2-18 years to Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). The data has been thoroughly reviewed by the CDSCO and Subject Experts Committee and has provided their positive recommendations.

Countries should seek cooperation, not make demands by putting pressure : Taliban

Doha [Qatar] October 12 : Referring to matters such as women’s rights, the Taliban said that the world should not make demands by putting pressure, but should seek cooperation.
The Taliban appointed Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi made these remarks at an event organised by the Center for Conflict and Humanitarian Studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Tolo News reported. “You should not seek your demands through putting pressure on us, ask us through cooperation,” Muttaqi said adding that the previous government had strong international support but was unable to bring reforms in 20 years.
“Now you are asking for all the reforms in two months,” he added.
During the event, Muttaqi also said that “the full implementation of the Doha agreement signed between the US and Afghanistan can address any problem between the two countries.”
He also added that when the Taliban took over Kabul, schools were already closed due to COVID-19 but now they are reopening the schools across the country.
“Schools for boys and girls were closed before us because of COVID. When Kabul fell to our hands, all schools were closed already. Schools in provinces were closed already. We have started reopening the schools,” Tolo News quoted Muttaqi as saying.
The Taliban after the siege of Afghanistan have been trying to deliver a moderate image to the world in an attempt to gain international confidence but experts say that the scenes at the Kabul airport were proof that the terrorist group has returned with the same radical and violence mindset.
Earlier, Sajjan Gohel, a security and terrorism analyst said that women are scared out of their minds, according to Four Nine, a prominent women’s magazine in the West.
“From the Afghan women I’ve spoken to, it’s incredibly traumatic. You’re looking at an entire generation who only read about the Taliban in books. Now, they’re having to live side-by-side with what is effectively a misogynistic cult,” Gohel said.
He also said that he believes we are going to see a return “to some degree of what we saw in the 1990s”.
According to the international security director at the Asia-Pacific Foundation: “Women’s lives [from 1996 to 2001] were very bleak and severely repressed by the Taliban. You’re looking at an era where every aspect of a woman’s life was controlled, contained, and confined,” reported Four Nine.
The Taliban has proposed a ban on coeducation. Their officials in Herat province had last week ordered that girls will no longer be allowed to sit in the same classes as boys in universities, Khaama Press report.

India logs 14,313 fresh COVID-19 cases in last 24 hrs, recovery rate highest since March 2020

India reported 14,313 new COVID-19 cases and 181 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry Informed on Tuesday.

New Delhi [India], October 12 : Of these, Kerala reported 6,996 COVID-19 cases and 84 deaths in the last 24 hours. According to the ministry, the cumulative COVID cases in the country stand at 3,39,85,920, while 4,50,963 people have succumbed to the infection so far.
There are 2,14,900 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, the ministry said.
As many as 26,579 recovered from the infection in the last 24 hours taking the recovery tally to 3,33,20,057. The recovery rate in the country currently stands at 98.04 per cent, which is the highest since March 2020.
The weekly positivity rate stands at 1.48 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 1.21 per cent.
Meanwhile, India conducted as many as 11,81,766 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours taking the total COVID tests conducted to 58,50,38,043.
95.89 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide vaccination drive that began earlier this year. (

Over 97 crores COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to states, UTs : Centre

New Delhi [India], October 12 : The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday informed that 97,00,24,165 vaccine doses have been provided to states and union territories so far, through all sources.
According to the health ministry, 8,22,69,545 balance and unutilized COVID Vaccine doses are still available with the states and union territories to be administered. “The Union Government is committed to accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of COVID-19 vaccination throughout the country. The new phase of universalization of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from 21st June 2021,” it said.
The vaccination drive has been ramped up through the availability of more vaccines, advanced visibility of vaccine availability to States and UTs for enabling better planning by them and streamlining the vaccine supply chain.
As part of the nationwide vaccination drive, the Government of India has been supporting the States and UTs by providing them COVID Vaccines free of cost.
In the new phase of the universalization of the COVID19 vaccination drive, the Central Government will procure and supply (free of cost) 75 per cent of the vaccines being produced by the vaccine manufacturers in the country to states and union territories.

Covaxin gets emergency approval for children aged 2-18 years

Subject Expert Committee gave recommendation to DCGI to use Covaxin for children, say official sources

New Delhi [India], October 12 : Subject Expert Committee (SEC) has given a recommendation to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for the use of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin for the beneficiaries 2-18 years, the official sources said.
Earlier, Dr Sanjay K Rai, a professor at Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) had claimed almost similar data. Meanwhile, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has crossed 95 crores.
The nationwide vaccination drive started in India on January 16 with the healthcare workers (HCWs) and the frontline workers getting inoculated in the first phase.
The next phase of COVID-19 vaccination commenced from March 1 for people over 60 years of age and those aged 45 and above with specified co-morbid conditions.
The country launched vaccination for all people aged more than 45 years from April 1.
The government then decided to expand its vaccination drive by allowing everyone above 18 to be vaccinated from May 1.

PSL franchises accept PCB’s offer of COVID-19 relief, locking of dollar rate

Lahore [Pakistan], October 11 : Pakistan Cricket Board on Monday announced that the six Pakistan Super League franchises have accepted the offer, which was presented to them during last month’s Governing Council meeting in Lahore.
Some of the salient terms of the offer, which the six franchises have accepted, include–Covid-19 relief for PSL 5 and 6; Upward revision of Central Pool of Revenue in favour of the franchises for HBL PSL 7-20; and Locking of Dollar rate with prospective effect. PCB Chairman Ramiz Raja welcomed the resolution, saying, “The longstanding matters between the PCB and the franchises were causing distraction and affecting the reputation of the brand. I am delighted that all matters have finally been resolved, which is a big step forward in building a stronger relationship with the franchise owners as we look forward to working with them to take the HBL PSL to greater and unprecedented heights.”
The franchise owners, in a joint statement, said, “PSL is very close to our hearts. Since 2016, we all have worked very hard to bring it to where it is today. The acceptance of the PCB offer is an indication of our commitment and resolve to make the PSL a bigger and better league that is participated by the best players, commercially supported by the elite companies, and watched live by the passionate cricket fans in Pakistan as well as globally.”

Rajasthan allows religious events

Rajasthan Government on Monday released revised COVID-19 related guidelines, allowing religious programmes with a limited number of people.

Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India], October 11 : The order, issued to all district collectors and superintendents of police by Home Secretary Abhay Kumar, comes amid the festive season across the country. As per guidelines, a maximum of 200 people, who have received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, will be allowed to attend religious events.
Such functions can be ogranised only after the prior permission of the district magistrate concerned from 6 am to 10 pm, the guidelines read.
Apart from this, events like Haat Bazaars and Pashu Haat fairs have also been approved in the new guideline. Similarly, keeping in mind the festival season, shops in the markets have been allowed to open from 10 pm.
“All shops, shopping malls, and business establishments are allowed to open till 10 am,” the guideline reads.
Outlets like petrol pump-CNG have been allowed to open on time.
The state government also said that the night curfew will continue to remain in place between 11 pm and 5 am every day.
Meanwhile, according to Health and Family Welfare, there are 37 active cases in the state.

Over 94 cr COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India

New Delhi [India], October 10 : India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage crossed the landmark of 94 crores, with 66,85,415 vaccine doses administered in the last 24 hours, the Union Minister informed on Sunday.
According to the provisional reports issued by the ministry at 7 am on Sunday, India has so far administered 94,70,10,175 COVID-19 vaccines. This has been achieved through 92,12,314 sessions.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry earlier in the day informed that India reported 18,166 fresh COVID-19 infections in the last 24 hours, the lowest in over 7 months.
India reported 214 COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours. The death toll in the country now stands at 4,50,589.
The active caseload of the country is presently at 2,30,971.
Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 97.99 per cent, the highest since March 2020.

NZ reports 61 new cases of COVID-19 Delta variant

Wellington [New Zealand], October 10 : New Zealand reported 61 new cases of COVID-19 Delta variant, said the Ministry of Health in a statement on Sunday.
Of the 61 new cases of COVID-19 reported, 60 were community cases in Auckland, Waikato and Bay of Plenty, and one were imported cases at the border, said the Ministry. The total case number of COVID-19 in the current Delta variant outbreak in New Zealand community reached 1,587 including 1,538 in Auckland, 31 in Waikato, 17 in Wellington, and one in Bay of Plenty.
There were 29 COVID-19 patients in New Zealand hospitals including seven in ICU or HDU.
New Zealand recorded 4,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.
New Zealand’s largest city Auckland is at COVID-19 Alert Level Three restrictions. Gatherings are limited to 10 people.
The Northland region was upgraded from Alert Level Two to Level Three from Friday night after one positive case of COVID-19 was found. Part of the Waikato region in
North Island has already been in Level Three due to community cases. The rest of the country is at Alert Level Two restrictions with indoor activities limited to 100 people.

India exports vaccine

India has exported COVID-19 vaccine doses to Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Iran, sources informed on Sunday.

New Delhi [India], October 10 : According to sources, Myanmar, Nepal, and Bangladesh received ten lakh doses of Covishield each, while Iran received three lakh doses of Covaxin. Earlier, on September 20, the Government of India had announced its decision to resume the export of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19 ) from October.
Announcing the decision, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said India will resume the export of COVID-19 vaccines under its ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative to fulfill the country’s commitment towards COVAX. 

COVID-19: SC directs Delhi govt to come up with plan to help disadvantaged children with online classes

New Delhi [India], October 8 : The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Delhi government to come out with a plan to help children of Economically Backward Class (EWS) category and disadvantaged groups during the COVID-19 pandemic for their online classes.
The Court said that the Centre and Delhi should work together to find out a solution to ensure that education is not denied due to lack of resources. The Supreme Court said it is necessary for the Delhi government to come with a plan to uphold the objective of the Right to Education (RTE) Act and the Centre to also coordinate with the state government and share concurrent responsibilities for the purposes of funding for resources.
The apex court said the digital divide produced stark consequences as schools adapted to the digital medium during the pandemic and the Right to Education was virtually denied to children belonging to EWS children as they could not afford computers and internet access for online classes

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