covid news

India logs 2,483 new COVID-19 cases, daily positivity rate declines

New Delhi [India]: India recorded 2,483 new COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, recording a slight decline from the previous day’s 2541 cases.

The active caseload has also dipped from 16,522 to 15,636, while the positivity rate declined to 0.55 per cent, according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare bulletin on Tuesday.
A total of 1,970 COVID patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic to 4,25,23,311. The recovery rate is 98.75 per cent.

As a total of 4,49,197 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally has risen to 83.54 crore tests.

The country has reported 1,399 COVID- related deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative death tally to 52,3622.

According to the bulletin, 1347 deaths have been counted from Assam which includes COVID-19 patients who died due to other reasons.

“Assam: The total cases, discharges and deaths provided by the State in its media bulletin have been considered along with the number of COVID-19 positive patients died due to other reasons to reflect the current active case figures,” reads the bulletin.

However, it added, that the state has reported zero deaths in the last 24 hours.

As far as vaccination is concerned, 22,83,224 doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered during this period. With this, the total number of vaccine jabs administered under the nationwide vaccination drive so far went up to 1,87,95,76,423. (ANI)

Mandaviya chairs meeting with key experts on new ‘XE’ variant of COVID-19

New Delhi [India]:  Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on Tuesday, chaired a review meeting regarding the new Coronavirus strain- ‘XE variant’ and directed the officials to boost the ongoing monitoring and surveillance in the country.

The Minister, in one of his recent tweets, informed that he had a meeting with the country’s top experts regarding the new ‘XE Variant’ of Covid-19, where he reviewed the Covid cases and gave necessary instructions for strengthening the ongoing monitoring and surveillance system to study the new variants and related cases.
According to a statement by the Ministry, Mandaviya has instructed officials on the medical infrastructure and resources front to constantly review the availability of essential drugs and medicines required for Covid treatment.

“He further emphasized that the ongoing vaccination drive must be carried out at full pace and all eligible should be vaccinated,” it read.

“While reviewing the cases of COVID-19 in the country, he (Mandaviya) directed the officials to boost the ongoing monitoring and surveillance of new variants and cases,” read an official statement by the ministry.

The review meeting was attended by key experts and officials of the country, including, Dr V.K. Paul, member, Health, NITI Aayog; Rajesh Bhushan, Union Health Secretary; Dr Randeep Guleria, Director at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS); Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General (DG) of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR); Dr NK Arora, Chairman of COVID-19 Working Group of National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), and other senior officials of the Health Ministry. (ANI)

Chandigarh lifts all COVID-19 restrictions, no penalty for not wearing face mask in public places

Chandigarh [India]: Amid the continuous decline in COVID-19, the Chandigarh administration on Monday lifted all the remaining COVID-19 restrictions including the wearing of masks in public places.

As per the order, no penalty would be imposed for not wearing a face mask in public or workplaces from now onwards.
However, the administration advised people to adhere to COVID appropriate behaviour including wearing of face mask, hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing.

“The undersigned in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 22 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in my capacity as Chairperson, State Executive Committee, State Disaster Management Authority hereby withdraws all the remaining orders/guidelines issued under DM Act, 2005 with immediate effect. No penalty or fine shall be imposed for not wearing of face mask in public/work places. However, the general public is advised to adhere to COVID Appropriate behaviour including wearing of face mask, hand hygiene and maintaining social distancing,” the order reads.

Several states have lifted COVID-19 restrictions and made use of face masks optional in public places in view of the decline in COVID-19 cases across the country.

States which have removed mask mandate include Maharashtra, Delhi, and Telangana. (ANI)


Covid threat: Chinese cities impose COVID-19 restriction as cases spike

Beijing [China]: Amid a rapid resurgence of COVID-19 cases in China, two of the country’s biggest cities, Shenzhen and Shanghai, have imposed strict virus measures.

The recent spike in coronavirus cases has led to allowing rapid antigen tests for public use and resulted in the dismissal of senior officials for their slack response to the ongoing health crisis. The latest spike, described as the severest COVID-19 outbreaks in two years, has forced several major cities to go into lockdowns.
Shenzhen officials imposed a lockdown for one week. Nonessential workers are ordered to stay home and adults have been asked to undergo three P.C.R. tests. Similarly, Shanghai has entered a partial lockdown. Residents are barred from leaving the city unless it is necessary.

On Sunday, China’s National Health Commission reported 3,122 new virus cases, a rise from previous totals from 1,524 on Saturday. The average number of new virus cases in the country has reached 1,370 per day over the past week, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Chinese state media reported that Chinese observers warned local governments to avoid taking extreme measures such as city lockdowns, as they would harm the local economy.

China isolates all virus cases, including those in the community, as part of its COVID Zero policy. State media tabloid Global Times reported that China must strive to achieve a new breakthrough in its COVID policy.

Meanwhile, the situation is not at ease even in the autonomous region of Hong Kong. About 300,000 Covid-19 patients and their close contacts in Hong Kong are now under home quarantine, according to the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

The city chief also highlighted that it would be challenging for the authorities to keep up if the cases keep rising at the current rate. (ANI)


COVID-hit tourism industry feel abandoned as no special package announced in Budget for sector


Agra (Uttar Pradesh) [India] (ANI): With no mention of any special packages or relief for the tourism industry in Union Budget 2022, the tourist associations and guide associations of Agra feel that they have been left abandoned.

The tourism industry has been hit hard due to COVID-19-induced restrictions for the past two years. Tourism is one of the main sources of income for a large number of people in the city as it is home to three UNESCO recognised heritage sites– Taj Mahal, Agra Fort and Fatehpur Sikri.
“It is surprising that there was not even a single mention about the tourism industry in this year’s budget. Everybody knows what is happening with the people associated with the industry. There is still no reaction from leadership in our state and it is demoralising. People are suffering for the last two years,” said JP Singh, President, UP Pariyatan Guide Association.

For the past two years, associations claimed they are requesting for the government’s help, submitted letters/representations, met ministers but it all went in vain. They are demanding to waive off GST, property tax for a specific period during which tourism industry suffered the most.

In India, there are two categories of government-approved guide i.e. central and state. There are approximately 1100 government recognised guides throughout Uttar Pradesh whereas 381 guides are recognised by the central government. Among them, around 450 guides operate in Agra alone.

The Central government recently announced a policy of giving loans worth Rs 1 lakh to guides.

“There has been no mention of the tourism industry, no mention of packages. Loans can never be a relief because if there is no earning from where we will pay off the loans,” said Vishal Sharma, Secretary, Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber.

“Tourism industry as a whole is barely functioning because tourism has plummeted significantly,” he said.

“Moreover, there are also 4-5 cases where guides after receiving the loan from banks had to give it back for reason till date unknown,” a guide said.

A number of people associated with the tourism industry for their bread and butter have been forced to switch to different professions of which they had no prior knowledge and required skills. (ANI)

India reports 1.27 lakh new COVID-19 cases, positivity rate drops to 7.98 pc


New Delhi [India] (ANI): India on Saturday recorded 1,27,952 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total tally to 4,20,80,664, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The country also reported 1,059 new deaths in the last 24 hours taking the cumulative tally of deaths to 5,01,114 due to coronavirus.
With this, the active caseload of India is presently at 13,31,648, constituting 3.16 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

The national COVID-19 recovery rate stood at 95.64 per cent while the positivity rate also fell to 7.98 per cent, the health ministry said. The weekly positivity rate also dipped to 11.21 per cent.

As many as 2,30,814 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative tally of recovered patients to 4,02,47,902.

A total of 16,03,856 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Over 73.79 crore tests have been conducted so far in the country, said the ministry.

With the administration of 47,53,081 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s cumulative tally of vaccination stood at 1,68,98,17,199 as per provisional reports till 7 am today. (ANI)(image -kshvid)

India reports 1,61,386 new COVID-19 cases, 1,733 deaths in last 24 hour


New Delhi [India] (ANI): India on Wednesday reported 1,61,386 new COVID-19 cases and 1,733 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The country’s overall COVID-19 cases tally has reached 4,16,30885, while the death toll has mounted to 4,97,975.
India on Tuesday reported 1,67,059 new COVID infections and 1,192 deaths.

With this, the country’s active caseload mounted to 16,21,603, which is 3.90 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases reported so far.

The daily positivity rate in the country dropped to 9.26 per cent while the weekly positivity rate also dipped to 14.15 per cent.

According to the health ministry, as many as 2,81,109 recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours taking the total recoveries to 3,95,11,307.

The recovery rate of the country is at 94.91 per cent.

A total of 17,42,793 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Over 73.24 crore tests have been conducted so far in the country, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, under the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, 167.29 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far. (image-kshvid)

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern tests negative for COVID-19, Wedding on cards


Wellington [New Zealand](ANI/Sputnik): Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has tested negative for COVID-19 after getting exposed to the coronavirus on a flight to Auckland, her spokesperson said.

“The Prime Minister has returned a negative Covid-19 test. In line with Ministry of Health guidance she is required to continue isolating until the end of Tuesday, February 1, or as otherwise advised by Public Health,” the spokesperson said as quoted by The New Zealand Herald on Monday.
Ardern had to isolate on Saturday after a flight attendant on her plane heading from Kerikeri to Auckland tested positive for the Omicron variant.

According to The New Zealand Herald, the prime minister took a PCR test on Sunday morning. Her chief press secretary Andrew Campbell confirmed to the newspaper on Monday that he had also tested negative.

Earlier this month, Ardern cancelled her own wedding as New Zealand was preparing to move to the red COVID-19 alert level amid the spread of Omicron. The prime minister had planned to get married to her partner Clarke Gayford this summer in Gisborne, according to The New Zealand Herald. The two have a daughter, Neve. (ANI/Sputnik-image Instagram)

Omicron replaces Delta as dominant variant with 67.5 pc positivity rate in Karnataka: Health Minister


Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India](ANI): Karnataka Health Minister Sudhakar K on Friday said that statistics show that the Delta variant of COVID-19 has become less dominant which is now replaced by the Omicron variant of the virus as against the second wave in the country when the former variant was more dominant over the others.

Sharing the genome sequencing data till Thursday in the state, the Minister said that the Omicron variant is more dominant in the ongoing third wave of COVID-19 with 67.5 per cent of the samples testing positive for the variant.
On the contrary, the Delta variant, which was more dominant during the second wave with a 90.7 per cent positivity rate of the sample, has now become less dominant with a 26 per cent positivity rate.

“Which strain is dominating in which wave in Karnataka? As per the genome sequencing sample, the following are the dominant strains: Second wave: 90.7 per cent Delta variant, Third-wave: 67.5 per cent Omicron variant and 26 per cent Delta variant of coronavirus,” Sudhakar tweeted.

Meanwhile, Karnataka reported 31,198 new COVID-19 infections on Friday with a positivity rate of 20.91 per cent. (Image-Instagram-HealthMinistry)

India logs 2,51,209 new COVID-19 cases, daily positivity rate drops to 15.88 pc


New Delhi [India]: India reported 2,51,209 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry reported on Friday. With this, the daily positivity rate in the country dropped to 15.88 per cent.

As per the ministry, the country’s active caseload mounted to 21,05,611, which is 5.18 per cent of the total COVID-19 cases reported so far.
As many as 627 covid-19 deaths and 3,47,443 recoveries from the virus have also been reported in the last 24 hours.

The weekly positivity rate too witnessed a drop today; was recorded to be 17.47 per cent.

164.44 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide vaccination drive.

The Ministry, in its release, informed that 15,82,307 COVID-19 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. Over 72.37 crore tests have been conducted so far in the country, said the ministry.

Meanwhile, under the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive, 1,64,44,73,216 vaccine doses have been administered so far. (ANI-image -kshvid)

Tamil Nadu govt to consider withdrawing Sunday lockdown


Chennai (Tamil Nadu), (ANI): Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian on Sunday said that COVID-19 cases were reduced in the state, adding that if cases continue to decline, the government will consider withdrawing Sunday lockdown.

“Cases are reducing in comparison to last one or two days. It is satisfactory. If cases continue to reduce, we will think about withdrawing the Sunday lockdown,” said Subramanian while talking to media.
He also said that people were cooperating with the government and complying with the Sunday lockdown.

Subramanian paid tributes to Netaji Subash Chandra Bose on the occasion of his 125 Birth Anniversary.

With 3.37 lakh new COVID-19 cases, India reports 9,550 less infections in last 24 hrs


New Delhi [India]: India on Saturday reported a dip in daily COVID-19 infections as the country logged 3,37,704 fresh cases in the last 24 hours with a daily positivity rate of 17.22 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As per government data, new infections were 9,550 less than that reported on Friday. India had reported 3,47,254 new COVID-19 cases and the daily positivity rate stood at 17.94 per cent yesterday.
The ministry in today’s COVID-19 bulletin said that India’s active caseload currently stands at 21,13,365. The active cases account for 5.43 per cent of the total cases. The weekly positivity rate is at 16.65 per cent.

With 2,42,676 recoveries in the last 24 hours, the cumulative recoveries mounted to 3,63,01,482. Consequently, the recovery rate is at 93.31 per cent.

In the last 24 hours, 488 people succumbed to the virus. The death toll is now at 4,88,884.

A total of 10,050 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected so far. The ministry said that there is an increase of 3.69 per cent in Omicron cases since yesterday.

As per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 19,60,954 tests were conducted on Friday. Over 71.34 crore tests have been conducted so far.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing nationwide vaccination drive against COVID-19 that was started on January 16 last year, India’s vaccination coverage has exceeded 161.16 crore.

With the administration of more than 67 lakh (67,49,746) vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 161.16 crore (1,61,16,60,078) as per provisional reports till 7 am today, the ministry said in a statement.

A total of 74,53,904 precaution doses have been administered to eligible beneficiaries. Of these, 25,79,571 were given to healthcare workers, 24,69,995 to frontline workers and 24,04,338 to those above 60 years of age with comorbidities.

In the vaccination drive for those aged between 15-18 years, which was started on January 3 this year, 4,06,33,023 vaccine doses have been given so far. (Image -kshvid)

Covid Report : India reports over 2.68 lakh fresh cases, 402 fatalities in last 24 hours


New Delhi [India]: India recorded 2,68,833 fresh COVID-19 cases and 402 fatalities in the last 24 hours, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday.

The fresh infections are 4,631 more than yesterday. On Friday, India logged 2,64,202 fresh COVID-19 cases.
With the addition of new cases, the total cases of coronavirus in the country rose to 3,68,50,962 including 14,17,820 active cases. Active cases account for 3.85 per cent of the total cases.

Of the total infections reported till date, 6,041 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 have been detected so far which is an increase of 5.01 per cent since yesterday.

As many as 16,13,740 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours wherein a daily positivity rate of 16.66 per cent was observed. Further, 70.07 crore total tests to detect the presence of the virus in individuals have been conducted so far in which a weekly positivity rate of 12.84 per cent was observed.

However, the death toll of those infected with the virus reached 4,85,752 with 402 more fatalities, the health ministry said.

Also, 1,22,684 new recoveries were reported in the last 24 hours thereby taking the total tally to 3,49,47,390. The recovery rate is currently at 94.83 per cent.

India has, meanwhile, upscaled its vaccine drive. 156.02 crore vaccine doses have been administered so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. (ANI/ Image – Kshvid)

Tamil Nadu announces night curfew, complete lockdown on Sunday


Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: With the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday announced night curfew from January 6 and a complete lockdown on Sunday.

“Night lockdown to be put in place from Januarys 6 from 10 pm to 5 am and full lockdown on Sunday, January 9 with restaurants to operate for takeaways from 7 am to 10 pm,” said the Chief Minister.
Besides, it has also directed school authorities to suspend physical classes.

“No classes for Play School and Kindergarten. Only online classes to be allowed for classes 1 to 9, and physical classes for classes 10 and 12. No training and coaching centres will be allowed to operate,” he said.

He further said that the public transport including bus, suburban trains and Metro will run at 50 per cent seating capacity.

“No permission for exhibition and book fair. No permission for Pongal related functions and gatherings. No permission for entertainment and amusement parks. No permission for public and cultural meetings. Public transport including bus, suburban trains and Metro to run at 50 per cent seating,” he said.

The Chief Minister said that the beaches will be open for only walking.

He further said that there will be no permission for entry to devotees in places of worship on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“The fish, meat and vegetable markets to be decongested. The district authorities to take steps to open markets in more than one place. Advise to decongest central bus stands by operating from different depots,” he added.

Earlier, Stalin had appealed to the people of Tamil Nadu to be vigilant and inoculate themselves at the earliest.

Two Deputy CMs, three Bihar Ministers test positive for COVID-19


Patna (Bihar) [India]: Five ministers of the Bihar government, including two Deputy Chief Ministers, have been tested positive for COVID-19.

Deputy Chief Ministers Renu Devi and Tarkishore Prasad have been tested positive for COVID-19.
Excise Minister Sunil Kumar, Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Chaudhary, and Education Minister Ashok Choudhary have also been reported to be infected with the virus.

“My COVID-19 test report has come positive. Currently, I am in Quarantine at my Patna residence. Please all the people who came in contact with me during this time, keep themselves in isolation and take all precautions related to their health. Take care all of you too,” tweeted Tarkishore Prasad.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Bihar government had imposed a fresh curb by implementing a statewide night curfew from 10 pm to 5 am from January 6 to 21.

As per the Union Ministry of Health’s data, there are 2,223 active cases of the virus in the state.

COVID-19: Kerala govt imposes restrictions on attendance at weddings, funerals, events in view of Omicron cases


Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India]: In the wake of increasing COVID-19 cases and the rising threat from the Omicron variant of coronavirus, the Kerala government on Tuesday restricted the number of attendees to 75 in weddings, funerals, social, political and cultural programmes in closed spaces while allowing 150 persons in open spaces.

The decision was taken in a high-level meeting convened by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan today.
Kerala reported 3,640 new cases, 30 deaths, 2363 recoveries in the last 24 hours, informed the state government.

Active cases in the state stand at 20,180.

After 423 deaths were added to the death tally as per the new guidelines of the Central government, the total number of deaths in Kerala from COVID-19 infection went up to 48,637 said Kerala govt in an official statement.

Kerala has reported a total of 185 Omicron cases so far, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

As far as the COVID-19 vaccination in the state is concerned, a total of 15.43 lakh children are eligible in the age group of 15 to 18 years for the COVID-19 vaccination, out of which, two per cent of beneficiaries have been given vaccination. (ANI)

Stringent measures being taken to control COVID-19 spread in border districts of Karnataka, says CM Bommai


Kalaburagi (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday said that stringent precautionary measures have been taken to control the spread of COVID-19 in border districts, adding that long-term measures need to be drawn up for the control of virus spread in coming days in the state.

The Chief Minister was addressing a press conference at Kalaburagi Airport here today.
“Long-term measures have been taken to control COVID-19 spread in border districts. Long-term measures will need to be drawn up for controlling the spread of virus in the state during coming days,” said Bommai while speaking to reporters here today.

Bommai said that instructions have been issued to augment medical infrastructure.

“Arrangements have been made to ensure additional beds, ICU facilities, oxygen supply and adequate stock of medicines, As for any chances of declaring holiday for schools, it would be decided based on experts’ suggestions,” he added.

Replying to a question about the possibility of imposing a lockdown in the state, he said that the previous two waves of Covid had dented the economy. Since the economy is showing recovery now, the state government is contemplating precautionary measures without affecting the daily economic activities, he added.

He stressed the importance of public cooperation in controlling COVID-19 and appealed to citizens to follow the COVID-19 guidelines diligently.

The Chief Minister Bommai also said that the process to fill up 14,000 posts in Kalayana Karnataka region. will be initiated.

“Financial approval has been given to fill 14000 posts in Kalyana Karnataka region. Recruitment to fill 14000 vacancies in various departments including 5000 posts in the Education department would start soon,” he said.

Replying to a question on Kalyana Karnataka Region Development Board (KKRDB), he said that full time officers would be posted to KKRDB. “The Board would be constituted in the next two days. A 3000cr action plan has been prepared for the Board and a decision in this regard would be taken soon,” he added.

Reacting to the incident in Ramanagar yesterday, Bommai said, “Such kind of behavior is not Karnataka culture. One can present their views in a gentle manner. This kind of bahaviour is not good for anyone.”

Congress Bangalore Rural MP DK Suresh and State Minister Dr CN Ashwathnarayan got into an altercation on stage over some development work in the presence of Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Monday.

At the event organized by the government, Bommai had unveiled the statues of Dr B R Ambedkar and Bengaluru founder Kempegowda. It was his first visit to Ramanagara after becoming chief minister.

The fight broke out when Suresh objected to Narayan’s speech. As Congress MP charged towards Narayan, security and police personnel intervened. Suresh was joined by Congress’ Bangalore Rural MLC S Ravi and he went on to snatch the mike to stop the minister from speaking. Amid the commotion following the incident, Suresh sat down on the stage in protest.

Meanwhile, Karnataka reported 2,479 new COVID-19 cases, 288 recoveries, and 4 deaths in the last 24 hours. Active cases in the state stand at 13,532.

Omicron: Karnataka reports 10 new cases on Sunday, tally touches 75+


Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka reported 10 new cases of Omicron on Sunday, taking the tally to 76, said State health minister K Sudhakar.

He tweeted on Monday, “Ten new cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Karnataka on Jan 2nd taking the tally to 76: Bengaluru: 8 cases (of which 5 are international travellers) and Dharwad: 2 cases.”
Bengaluru reported eight cases of Omicron on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai asked the officials to be extra vigilant in the districts bordering Maharashtra.

Speaking to reporters, CM Bommai said, “I have directed officials to be extra vigilant in districts like Belagavi, Vijayapura bordering Maharashtra, where cases are witnessing a surge…People should follow guidelines and avoid creating a situation that may force the government to impose lockdown.”

Jaipur schools shut for class 1-8, Rajasthan implements new COVID guidelines


Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India]: Amid the surge in Omicron cases, the Rajasthan government has imposed a fresh set of COVID-19 guidelines which has shut schools in Jaipur till January 9 for classes 1 to 8. However, colleges will have to ensure that students above 18 years of age should be fully vaccinated.

“Regular classroom activities for classes 1 to 8 in all private and government schools in the areas of Jaipur Greater and Jaipur Heritage municipal corporations will be closed from January 3 to 9. In other districts, collectors will take decisions about schools after discussion with the additional chief secretary of the education department,” the order reads.
As per the new guidelines, foreign returnees will have to undergo quarantine for seven days even if they test negative and not more than 100 people can attend any marriage, meetings or processions.

“A maximum of 100 people will be allowed in marriage functions, public, political, social or educational meetings and processions, dharnas, fairs and such events,” the order reads.

“People coming from abroad will have to undergo mandatory RT-PCR tests in Rajasthan and will have to be in institutional or home quarantine for seven days till test reports come negative for the virus,” it added.

“Domestic travellers arriving in Rajasthan will have to produce double vaccine certificates or RT-PCR negative test reports not older than 72 hours”, the guidelines stated.

Meanwhile, night curfew from 11 pm to 5 am will remain in force in Rajasthan.

Rajasthan reported 355 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the cumulative positive tally to 9,56,883.

Tripura: Over 4 lakh people haven’t taken 2nd COVID vaccine dose, says National Health Mission Director


Agartala (Tripura) [India]: Tripura National Health Mission Director Siddhartha Shiv Jaiswal on Saturday said that there are about four lakh people in the state who have not received the second dose of the Covid vaccine.

In an exclusive interaction with ANI, Jaiswal said, “We have already administered a total of 46.97 lakh vaccine doses in the state among which 21,28,000 people have already received both the jabs. The total projected population in the 18 years plus category was 25,69,000 and 82 per cent of this population has received full vaccination”.
The remaining 18 per cent eligible beneficiaries, he said, who are not showing up at the vaccination centres for the second dose, are being traced through health teams and telephone calls to ensure that they get their prescribed dose. “The total population with the second dose due would be 4,08,000. The health teams are trying to connect with them to ensure that their vaccination is done,” said Jaiswal.

Jaiswal also informed that registration portals have been opened for fresh vaccination entries for children between the age group of 15 years to 18 years.

“As per the new guidelines, we are starting vaccination for the children from January 3, while the precaution doses would be administered to healthcare workers, frontline workers and people with comorbidities,” he added.

According to the NHM Director, the number of people who would be covered through these two drives is 2,13,000 and 91,200 respectively.

A total of 354 special vaccination sites would be opened for that purpose.

Jaiswal also appealed to the people to participate in the drive and to get inoculated in time. (ANI)

India reports 13,154 new COVID-19 cases, Omicron tally surges to 961


New Delhi [India]: India has reported 13,154 new COVID-19 cases and 268 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday.

The tally of Omicron COVID-19 variant cases in the country has gone up to 961 with maximum cases were reported from Delhi (263) and Maharashtra (252).
With this, the country’s COVID-19 tally has risen to 34,822,040 while the death toll has mounted to 4,80,860.

The ministry informed that the active caseload in the country stands at 82,402 constituting 0.24 per cent of the total cases.

As many as 7,486 patients recovered in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 3,42,58,778.

The recovery rate in the country currently stands at 98.38 per cent.

The weekly positivity rate in the country is 0.76 per cent which remains lesser than 1 per cent for the last 46 days.

The daily positivity rate is 1.10 per cent which remains lesser than 2 per cent for the last 87 days.

The country has conducted as many as 67.64 crore COVID-19 tests so far.

Seegene to export 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 test reagent to Israel


Seoul [South Korea]: Seegene, a Korean molecular diagnostic company, announced on the 29th that it will export 1.7 million doses of COVID-19 test reagent to Israel.

As urgent demand for test reagent increased due to COVID-19 Omicron variant, Seegene has decided to ship products by a chartered flight. The flight will depart from Incheon Airport on the 29th, and will arrive in Israel on the 30th.
Seegene said that the diagnostic reagent exported to Israel can detect Omicron variants as well as existing COVID-19 viruses.

This product can detect four existing COVID-19 virus genes and five variant genes. It diagnoses Omicron variant by detecting three variant genes included in Omicron virus. (ANI/Global Economic)

Sourav Ganguly admitted to hospital, tests covid positive

Kolkata : BCCI president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly has been admitted to a city hospital after testing positive for COVID-19, the cricket board sources said on Tuesday. Ganguly is double vaccinated and has been travelling extensively, taking part in all professional activities.

The 49-year-old was rushed to a hospital late on Monday night as a precautionary measure after his RT-PCR test returned positive.

“He was taken to Woodlands Nursing Home last night. He has been given medication and is currently stable,” a BCCI source, who is keeping track of Ganguly’s health, told agency.

Ganguly was admitted to hospital twice earlier this year and underwent emergency angioplasty after having some cardiac issues.

Maharashtra: With COVID restrictions in place, people offer Christmas prayers from church gate


Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: With the Maharashtra government asking churches to permit devotees only uptil 50 per cent of their capacity for the midnight mass on the occasion of Christmas, some people flocked at a Mumbai church gate and offered prayers from the gate.

With their hands folded, some people stood at the gate of St. Michael’s Church in Mahim, Mumbai and hummed small prayers. In the spirit of celebrating Christmas, few people arrived at the church with family and glazed at the illuminated church building.
The church was lit up with vibrant led lights with colours frequently changing from blue to green, pink and yellow.

The restrictions on the gathering in churches came in view of rising Omicron cases in the state.

The Maharashtra government in its new COVID-19 guidelines on Friday prohibited gathering of more than five persons in public places from 9 pm-6 am, among other such measures, applicable from the intervening night of December 24-25.

Maharashtra government also released Christmas specific guidelines to be observed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“People will be allowed to attend church up to 50 per cent of the available seating capacity in the church for Christmas. Special care should be taken to ensure that the church is not crowded in any way and that social distancing is maintained and that masks and sanitizers are used. Disinfection should also be arranged in the church,” read the order.

“Scenes from the life of the Lord Jesus, a Christmas tree or other objects are kept in the church on Christmas day. Appropriate measures should be taken to follow the rules of Social Distancing and Hygiene in that place,” it added.

Guidelines also include that no shops or stalls should be set up outside / around the church, avoid large gatherings or crowds in public places or on the streets and fireworks should not be set off, strict adherence to rules and regulations regarding noise pollution.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra has reported over 100 cases of Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa.

According to Union Health Ministry, India has reported over 350 cases of the new variant. (ANI)

Anyone found violating govt guidelines on COVID-19 will be booked, says Municipal Commissioner


Mumbai (Maharashtra): Ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Commissioner, in a fresh order on Thursday said that anyone found violating the state government’s guidelines on COVID-19 will be booked under Section 188 of IPC.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government will issue detailed guidelines on Friday to avoid crowds during Christmas and New Year celebrations as the State is once again reporting a steep hike in COVID-19 cases amid fresh concerns raised by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
While, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackrey held a meeting with the COVID-19 task force on Thursday at 10:00 pm via video conferencing, as per Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

The guidelines will cover the gathering allowed at wedding ceremonies in hotels and restaurants. (ANI)

UK to offer COVID-19 Pfizer shots to at-risk children aged 5-11

London [UK]: The UK Health Security Agency allowed on Wednesday the use of smaller doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines in children aged 5 to 11 who are at a higher risk from COVID-19.

“Children aged 5 to 11, who are in a clinical risk group or who are a household contact of someone (of any age) who is immunosuppressed, should be offered a primary course of vaccination,” it said.
The regulator said a third of the adult dose will be administered twice with an interval of eight weeks.

The agency also recommended giving booster shots to teenagers aged 16 to 17 and at-risk children aged 12 to 15 in a bid to ramp up the revaccination campaign.

The UK’s daily cases soared to over 90,000 on Tuesday as the Omicron variant continued to spread across the country, just days before Christmas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said no new restrictions were forthcoming. (ANI/Sputnik)

Preclinical studies supports US Army’s pan-coronavirus vaccine development strategy


Washington [US]: The Spike Ferritin Nanoparticle (SpFN) COVID-19 vaccine developed by researchers at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) not only elicits a potent immune response but may also provide broad protection against SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern as well as other coronaviruses, according to a series of recently published preclinical study.

According to a statement released by US Army, scientists in WRAIR’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch (EIDB) developed the SpFN nanoparticle vaccine, based on a ferritin platform, as part of a forward-thinking “pan-SARS” strategy that aims to address the current pandemic and acts as a first line of defence against variants of concern and similar viruses that could emerge in the future.
“The accelerating emergence of human coronaviruses throughout the past two decades and the rise of SARS-CoV-2 variants, including most recently Omicron, underscore the continued need for next-generation preemptive vaccines that confer broad protection against coronavirus diseases,” said Dr Kayvon Modjarrad, Director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch at WRAIR, co-inventor of the vaccine and the US Army lead for SpFN.

“Our strategy has been to develop a ‘pan-coronavirus’ vaccine technology that could potentially offer safe, effective and durable protection against multiple coronavirus strains and species.”

Pre-clinical studies published today in Science Translational Medicine indicate that the SpFN vaccine protects non-human primates from disease caused by the original strain of SARS-CoV-2 and induces highly-potent and broadly-neutralizing antibody responses against major SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern including the SARS-CoV-1 virus that emerged in 2002, the statement read.

SpFN entered Phase 1 human trials in April 2021. Early analyses, expected to conclude this month, will provide insights into whether SpFN’s potency and breadth, as demonstrated in preclinical trials, will carry over into humans. The data will also allow researchers to compare SpFN’s immune profile to that of other COVID-19 vaccines already authorized for emergency use.

“This vaccine stands out in the COVID-19 vaccine landscape,” Modjarrad said. “The repetitive and ordered display of the coronavirus spike protein on a multi-faced nanoparticle may stimulate immunity in such a way as to translate into significantly broader protection.”

WRAIR developed a secondary candidate vaccine, a SARS-CoV-2 Spike Receptor-Binding Domain Ferritin Nanoparticle (RFN) vaccine, which targets a smaller part of the coronavirus Spike protein than the SpFN vaccine. Results from a study, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that this vaccine potentially offers similar protection against an array of SARS-CoV-2 variants and SARS-CoV-1.

“The RFN vaccine candidate is more compact and has some natural advantages as we try to increase the immune response against multiple coronaviruses using a single vaccine platform, so it is still under consideration as part of our pan-coronavirus vaccine development pipeline,” said WRAIR structural biologist and vaccine co-inventor, Dr Gordon Joyce.

“The threat from COVID-19 continues as it evolves, and eventually there will be other emerging disease threats,” said Dr Nelson Michael, Director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research at WRAIR.

“Our investment in developing a next-generation vaccine is an important step towards getting ahead of COVID-19 and future disease threats.” (ANI)

COVID-19: India reports 213 Omicron cases till now, Delhi tops list


New Delhi [India]: India reported 6,317 fresh COVID-19 cases and 318 deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday.

The country’s active caseload currently stands at 78,190, the lowest in 575 days.
According to the Ministry, 213 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been reported in the country so far. Out of this, Delhi topped the list with 57 confirmed cases followed by Maharashtra (54 cases) and Telangana (24 cases).

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the active cases in the country account for less than 1 per cent of total cases, currently at 0.22 per cent which is the lowest since March last year.

With 6,906 new recoveries reported across the country in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries mounted to 3,42,01,966. The current recovery rate at 98.40 per cent which is the highest since March 2020.

With the addition of new fatalities, the death toll mounted to 4,78,325.

The daily positivity rate (0.51 per cent) is less than 2 per cent for the last 79 days while the weekly positivity rate (0.58 per cent) is less than 1 per cent for the last 38 days.

With the administration of 57,05,039 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 138.96 crore. (ANI)

World could be entering worst part of pandemic: Bill Gates on Omicron surge

Washington [US]: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has warned against the rising Omicron cases around the world, saying that the world could be entering the worst part of the pandemic as the variant will result in the “worst surge” the world has seen so far.

In a series of tweets, Bill Gates said he has cancelled most of his holiday plans after his close friends have been infected with the Omicron variant.
“Omicron is spreading faster than any virus in history. It will soon be in every country in the world,” he said.

Noting that the “big unknown” is how lethal the variant is, Gates claimed: “Even if it’s only half as severe as delta, it will be the worst surge we have seen so far because it’s so infectious.”

He advised people to take booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it gives the best protection.

“In the meantime, we all have to look out for each other, especially the most vulnerable, whether they live down the street or in another country. That means wearing masks, avoiding big indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated. Getting a booster gives the best protection,” he tweeted.

Bill Gates also claimed that the pandemic wave due to Omicron would last less than three months.

“If there’s good news here, it’s that omicron moves so quickly that once it becomes dominant in a country, the wave there should last less than 3 months. Those few months could be bad, but I still believe if we take the right steps, the pandemic can be over in 2022,” he further said.

Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa in November, has been declared as a “variant of concern” by the WHO.

Speaking at a briefing on Monday, WHO head Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there was no evidence that the variant was “spreading significantly faster” than the previous dominant version, Delta.

The World Health Organization has urged people to cancel some of their holiday plans to protect public health, as the Omicron variant spreads globally.

“An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled,” said Ghebreyesus, adding that “difficult decisions” must be made. (ANI)

Kerala reports 4,006 new cases of COVID-19


Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India]: Kerala recorded 4,006 new cases of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours, said the state government on Wednesday.

During the last 24 hours, a total of 3,898 people recovered from the infection.
In the state, 125 people lost their lives to the deadly virus and 157 deaths were added to the tally as per the new guidelines of the Centre according to which deaths occurred before June 2021 which were not initially added to the Covid death list due to some reasons are being included now. With this, the death tally in the state has reached up to 43,626.

There are currently 35,234 active cases of COVID-19 in the state. (ANI)

Kerala records 2,434 new COVID-19 cases, 38 deaths

Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala) [India]: Kerala reported 2,434 new COVID-19 cases during the last 24 hours, as per the health bulletin issued by the state government on Monday.

During the last 24 hours, 4,308 people have recovered from the infection. While 38 people lost their lives to the deadly virus, taking the death toll to 43,170.
At present, there are 36,281 active COVID-19 cases in the state.

A total of 50,446 samples were tested in the last 24 hours, the bulletin said.

Meanwhile, India has recorded 7,350 new COVID-19 cases and 202 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry informed on Monday. (ANI)

COVID-19: Mask usage declining; WHO warning against it amid Omicron scare

New Delhi [India]: Dr VK Paul, Member-Health of NITI Aayog, on Friday expressed concern over the decline in the use of face masks in the country and said that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against it as the global scene of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is disturbing.

Paul also said that India needs to remember that both the COVID-19 vaccine and face masks are important.
“Mask usage is declining. We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. We should learn from the global situation,” said Paul while addressing the health briefing.

“WHO is warning against the decline in mask usage. The global scene of Omicron is disturbing,” he added.

People at crowded places are also not wearing masks.

As far as protection capability is concerned, Paul said that India is now operating at a risky and unacceptable level.

“We have to remember that both vaccines and masks are important. It is not the time to remove masks yet,” reiterated Paul.

Further, he said, “The United Kingdom and France are experiencing a massive wave due to this variant. The pandemic caused by the virus is full of surprises and unexpected turns, so it is very important to protect yourself from it.”

Talking about the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron virus, Paul said that it is effective against all variants. “The variants aren’t so smart yet that they can surpass the vaccine protection,” he said.

The Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Balram Bhargava added that regular meetings are being organised to keep a watch on the global scenario and Covid scene in India with a focus on Omicron.

“We need help to not spread panic. District level restrictions to be implemented where positivity over 5 per cent,” he added. (ANI)

Punjab: Rs 50,000 ex gratia to kin of those who died of COVID-19

Chandigarh (Punjab) [India]: An ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 will be given to the next of kin of persons who died of COVID-19 disease, said Yashpal Garg, Secretary Health of Chandigarh on Thursday.

Speaking to ANI, Garg said, “Last month, Supreme Court has given directions to give an ex gratia amount of Rs 50,000 to the next kin of persons who died of COVID-19 infection. So, we have given all the details to the Disaster Management Authority.”
“Last week, a total of 12 applications have been received, out of which five people have received the ex-gratia amount. We have asked for more applications and trying to transfer this amount to all within 30 days,” he said.

Further, the Health Secretary said that a total of 1,076 people have died due to the COVID-19 virus in Chandigarh so far.

“Earlier, we had data of 820 deaths in Chandigarh, but after collecting data from cremation grounds, we found out that there are a total of 1,076 deaths reported in Chandigarh,” he said.

Appealing to people to come forward and apply for the ex-gratia amount, Garg said, “I would say that people should come forward and submit the applications. Even, if there are people whose name is not there in the 1,076 death list, they can also apply for the ex gratia amount by submitting the application to Grievance committee.”

“If the committee considers the application, then they will also get this amount,” he added.

Gujarat: Govt hospitals in Vadodara set up special wards for Omicron cases

Vadodara (Gujarat) [India]: The government hospitals in Gujarat’s Vadodara have set up special wards dedicated to Omicron cases in wake of the threat of the new COVID-19 variant looming large over the country.

The SSG Hospital has set up 50 Omicron dedicated wards, while GMERS Medical College and Hospital has set up 20 wards. These wards are equipped with ventilator and oxygen support.
The medical superintendent of SSG Hospital Dr Ranjan Iyer informed that the hospital has enough stock of medicines and ventilators to handle the situation.

“In view of the Omicron variant, we have prepared a special ward equipped with ventilator and oxygen support. We have enough stock of medicines, ventilators to handle the situation,” he said.

Gujarat had so far reported one case of new COVID 19 variant Omicron in Jamnagar, who is a 72-year old man who returned from Zimbabwe.

Meanwhile, the office of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday announced that the restrictions on scheduled international commercial passenger services from and to India shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.

Circular issued by the DGCA stated that the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services has been extended till January 31 next year.

The current list of “at-risk” countries for the COVID-19 Omicron variant includes the United Kingdom, other countries in Europe, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.

Omicron could have ‘major impact’, but no definitive answers yet: WHO

Geneva [Switzerland], December 9 (ANI): The World Health Organisation (WHO) has shed light on features of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, including the extent to which it will spread, and the number of mutations in the newfound strain.

The WHO suggests that a new variant could have a major impact on the course of the pandemic, but it’s still too early to say for sure.
This was revealed in Wednesday’s weekly briefing on the virus from WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, speaking to journalists in Geneva.

The WHO chief highlighted “a consistent picture of the rapid increase in transmission”. However, he added that the exact rate of increase relative to other variants remains difficult to quantify.

Despite some data from South Africa suggesting an increased risk of re-infection with Omicron, more data is needed, according to UN news. The variant might also cause milder disease than Delta, but there is no definitive answer yet.

“New data are emerging every day, but scientists need time to complete studies and interpret the results. We must be careful about drawing firm conclusions until we have a more complete picture”, Tedros explained.

Amid the global spread of Omicron, Tedros has called on all countries to increase surveillance, testing and sequencing. “Any complacency now will cost lives”, he warned.

He further said people everywhere are not defenceless against Omicron, or Delta.

“The steps countries take today, and in the coming days and weeks will determine how Omicron unfolds. If countries wait until their hospitals start to fill up, it’s too late. Don’t wait. Act now”, he said.

Tedros also asked countries to avoid “ineffective and discriminatory” travel bans.

So far, Omicron has been reported in 57 countries, and WHO expects the number to continue growing. (ANI)

Pakistan undermining global efforts to promote COVID-19 vaccination: Report

Washington [US]: As the world continues to campaign to overcome vaccine hesitancy, Pakistan appears to be creating anti-vaccine sentiment with the aim of spreading sectarian discord.

In an opinion piece for Washington based The National Interest, an American scholar has highlighted how groups apparently aligned with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency appear to be sabotaging vaccination campaigns deliberately.
This is being done to further sectarian discord and to deny any diplomatic gain their opponents’ goodwill vaccination diplomacy might achieve.

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, cited the example of Hindu faith-based charity group Sewa International USA which has nearly four dozen chapters across the country and serves Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and Jews.

Sewa, which has been active in both vaccination and fundraising campaigns in both the US and India, began facing problems at the height of India’s second COVID-19 wave, when then-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced a USD 2.5 million donations for the group to help its anti-COVID efforts in India.

Soon after the announcement was made, the blogosphere erupted and an activist named Pieter Friedrich posted an article to a self-publication platform Medium, alleging that Sewa was the “welfare wing” of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Rubin said that sparked follow-on articles in more mainstream publications amplifying the criticism. Friedrich then announced a hunger strike to protest the donation, repeating the charge that Sewa was affiliated with RSS.

Rubin explained how that Friedrich is known primarily for gadfly efforts to cancel Mahatma Gandhi in both US and in South Asian circles. Friedrich often accuses the Indian founding father of everything from “white supremacy” to promoting Adolf Hitler.

The US scholar has argued that the Biden administration should continue to pursue its vaccine diplomacy and at the same time act against Pakistan’s government, which is weaponizing COVID-19.

“American efforts to immunize those in India and elsewhere against COVID-19 can buy the same goodwill and have the same lasting impact that George W. Bush-era efforts to counter HIV in Africa have had,” he said.

Meanwhile, Rubin also insists that it is important not only to provide vaccines and education but also to expose against unregistered foreign agents who seek to obfuscate and undermine efforts domestically.


Simply put, for Biden’s anti-COVID-19 efforts to work, it is time to call out the ISI and sanction Pakistan for actions that, quite literally, endanger the world,” he emphasised. (ANI)

Omicron: Genome sequencing lab will be established in Karnataka, says CM Bommai

Bengaluru(Karnataka) [India]: In the wake of rising cases of the new COVID-19 variant ‘Omicron’, the Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced that a Genome sequencing lab that conducts test for the ‘Omicron’ variant will be established in Karnataka.

The government has already initiated action to establish a Genome Sequencing Lab in the state. Health Secretary has been instructed to look into the needs of procuring the necessary equipment and experts for the purpose, says Bommai.
“All the districts have COVID-19 testing labs. Genome Sequencing needs expert systems and modern equipment. The spread of the new variant ‘Omicron’ has necessitated sending test samples in suspect cases for Omicron, to Genome Sequence testing in NCBS. Arrangements would be made to get the test reports quickly,” Bommai said.

Earlier on Monday, Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar informed that only two cases of Omicron were found in the state and the genomic sequencing analysis report of the rest are awaited.

“The genomic sequence report of those in contact with the infected has not yet arrived. New infections have been discovered in other states. The primary and secondary contacts of the infected too, are found to have no problems or symptoms. The infected are being treated at the Bowring Hospital and that he is in regular contact with the hospital director. Those who came in contact with the Omicron infected have received both vaccine doses,” Sudhakar said.

A new variant of COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 25. As per the WHO, the first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on November 9 this year.

On November 26, the WHO named the new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, which has been detected in South Africa, as ‘Omicron’. The WHO has classified Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’.

Dozens of countries have imposed travel restrictions on the southern African nations since the mutation was discovered.

The new Omicron coronavirus variant has been confirmed in 23 countries and their number is expected to rise, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said.

India has also added several countries to the list from where travellers would need to follow additional measures on arrival in the country, including post-arrival testing for infection. (ANI)

Omicron: Uganda confirms seven Omicron COVID-19 variant cases

Kampala [Uganda]: Uganda on Tuesday reported that it has registered seven cases of Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant.

Ruth Aceng, Minister of Health, told reporters that seven people traveling into the country had tested positive for the variant. She said five of them came from Nigeria and two from South Africa.
Aceng said the cases have been isolated and are being monitored.

“They are not severely ill. So there is nothing to worry about. They have been isolated,” the minister said.

Aceng urged the public to remain calm and continue embracing vaccination.

The minister last week said the east African country would keep its borders open despite the concerns over Omicron.

Aceng said the country has adequate measures in place at the points of entry to detect importation of any variant.

Ministry of Health figures show so far some 7.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines have been administered since the exercise started in the country early this year. (ANI/Xinhua)

All 9 Omicron variant patients in Rajasthan’s Jaipur are asymptotic: CMHO

Jaipur (Rajasthan) [India]: All the nine Omicron COVID-19 variant patients in Rajasthan’s Jaipur are asymptotic, said Dr Narottam Sharma, Chief Medical Health Officer, Jaipur on Monday.

Speaking to ANI, Sharma said, “All nine Omicron variant patients are asymptotic. We are taking the matter seriously and are doing contact tracing and taking effective measures.”
Earlier on Sunday, the state health department informed that a total of nine cases of COVID19 Omicron variant have been reported in Rajasthan’s Jaipur.

Samples of 34 people (of the family that came from South Africa and the people they came in contact with) were sent for genome sequencing and nine were found to be positive for Omicron, said the health department. The remaining 25 people tested negative.

Malaysia reports 5,551 new COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia]: Malaysia reported another 5,551 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national total to 2,649,578, according to the health ministry.

Some 23 of the new cases are imported, with 5,528 being local transmissions, according to data released on the ministry.
Another 17 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 30,538.

About 5,301 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 2,556,554.

There are some 62,486 active cases, 499 are being held in intensive care units and 269 of those are in need of assisted breathing.

The country administered a total of 125,927 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, and some 79.2 per cent of the population have received at least one dose and 77.9 per cent have been fully vaccinated. (ANI/Xinhua)

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia], December 4 (ANI/Xinhua): Malaysia reported another 5,551 new COVID-19 infections as of midnight Friday, bringing the national total to 2,649,578, according to the health ministry.

Some 23 of the new cases are imported, with 5,528 being local transmissions, according to data released on the ministry.
Another 17 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 30,538.

About 5,301 patients have been released after recovery, bringing the total number of cured and discharged to 2,556,554.

There are some 62,486 active cases, 499 are being held in intensive care units and 269 of those are in need of assisted breathing.

The country administered a total of 125,927 doses of the COVID-19 vaccines on Friday, and some 79.2 per cent of the population have received at least one dose and 77.9 per cent have been fully vaccinated.

COVID test mandatory for all international passengers arriving in state: Karnataka Health Minister

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]:Minister of Health and Medical Education Dr K Sudhakar on Tuesday informed that international passengers arriving in Karnataka must undergo mandatory COVID-19 RT-PCR testing.

Speaking to the media after the technical advisory committee meeting, Dr K Sudhakar said, “A mandatory RTPCR test is being carried out for travellers from countries where the new virus is found. Chief Minister has instructed us to test travellers from any country.”
Sudhakar informed that about 2,500 passengers come to the state every day, from various nations. Those who will be tested negative will be home quarantined for seven days. “Those who are symptomatic and negative will have to undergo testing at home on the fifth day. Asymptomatic will be tested on the seventh day. If positive, they will be immediately hospitalized. And they will be treated separately,” he added.

Covid’s new variant, the ‘Omicron’ virus has been found in 12 countries across the world. To prevent this variant, all necessary precautionary measures are being taken in the state.

Considering our population and health infrastructure, we need to be more careful than other countries, Dr Sudhakar said, “Preparations for the health care services including availability of beds, oxygen beds, deployment of doctors and personnel, supply of medicine were also discussed at the meeting. Those who have not got vaccination should voluntarily come forward and get vaccinated and stay safe. Suggestions regarding vaccine drive and measures to increase the numbers were discussed. 41 lakh people are slated to get a second dose of the Covid vaccine. Priority will be given to reach out to these people.”

“The central government is getting samples from all states. Every international passenger’s contacts are being tracked and tested”, the Minister said.

Sudhakar further informed that by using technology such as the ‘Quarantine’ App, ‘Tele Medicine’ are also being considered. “In addition, a panel of 10 experts has been set up to formulate separate guidelines for treatment”, Minister Sudhakar further added. (ANI)

Philippines approves China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine as booster shots

Manila [Philippines]: The Philippines’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of China’s Sinovac CoronaVac vaccine and three other brands as booster shots against the COVID-19, FDA Director General Enrique Domingo said Tuesday.

During a pre-recorded meeting aired on Tuesday, Domingo said the FDA has already amended the emergency use authorization of Sinovac, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sputnik Light, “meaning six months after the second dose, another can be administered.”
The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said that all fully vaccinated healthcare workers could get the booster doses starting on Wednesday, as well as people with underlying health conditions and the elderly with comorbidities.

To date, the Philippines has received almost 125 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from different vaccine makers. China, the biggest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines, was the first country to provide vaccines to the Philippines, allowing the Southeast Asian country to kick off its vaccination drive on March 1.

The Philippines has administered nearly 71 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. More than 31.8 million people have been fully vaccinated. The government aims to vaccinate up to 70 per cent of its 110 million population this year.

As of Tuesday, the country has reported a total of nearly 2.82 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 45,808 deaths. (ANI/Xinhua)

India’s COVID-19 vaccine coverage exceeds 102.27 cr

New Delhi [India]: With the administration of 12,30,720 COVID-19 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 102.27 crores, the Union Health Ministry informed on Monday.

According to the ministry, 1,02,27,12,895 doses of COVID-19 vaccines has been administrated across the country so far. This has been achieved through 1,01,52,393 sessions.
Meanwhile, India reported 14,306 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. The active caseload in the country stands at 1,67,695.

The cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients now stands at 3,35,67,367.

Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 98.18 per cent. The recovery rate is currently at its highest peak since March 2020.

The testing capacity across the country continues to be expanded. The last 24 hours saw a total of 9,98,397 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted 60,07,69,717 tests so far. (ANI)

Will make India self-sufficient: SII

New Delhi [India]: While appreciating Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s landmark achievement of administering over 100 crore COVID-19 vaccine jabs, Cyrus Poonawalla, chairman of Serum Institute of India (SII) said that they will make India self-sufficient in the COVID-19 vaccine which will be available at the lowest possible price in the world.

Poonawala’s remarks came after attending an interaction of Indian manufacturers of the COVID-19 vaccine with PM Modi.
He said, “Today, the PM Modi was very happy as our assurance of giving COVID-19 vaccines has been fulfilled. This is only possible because the PM has gone out of his way and made all the people move very fast. The health workers also cooperated and thus we have achieved this milestone. We will make India self-sufficient in the COVID-19 vaccine, with the lowest possible price in the world “

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar were also present during the interaction.

The interaction comes days after the country crossed a milestone of administering 100 crore vaccinations.

As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, with the administration of 68,48,417 vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has surpassed the 100 Crore mark to reach 101.30 Cr (1,01,30,28,411) as per provisional reports till 7 am today. (ANI)

Samsung Pay now lets users store their COVID-19 vaccination card


Washington [US]: In a partnership with the Commons Project Foundation, a healthcare nonprofit, tech-giant Samsung is now letting its users store digital versions of their COVID-19 vaccination cards in Samsung Pay.

According to The Verge, the smartphone company announced the development recently. To enable the feature, the Samsung Pay users have to first download the free CommonHealth app from the Google Play store and follow the instructions to access their COVID-19 vaccine record, from participating pharmacies, health systems, and health providers (not all providers are connected to the system yet).
After getting access to their COVID-19 vaccination credentials within the CommonHealth app, the users can add them to their Samsung Pay wallet.

This will make the COVID-19 vaccination pass available on the Samsung Pay app home page.

However, it is not clear yet whether restaurants, schools, offices, or other places that are requiring proof of vaccination, will accept these electronic versions or not.

The Verge reported that back in June, Google launched Android’s built-in passes system to let Android users store a digital vaccine card, on their phones. Available first in the US, it will rely on support from healthcare providers, or other organizations authorized to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

On a related note, some states, like New York and California, have introduced their own digital COVID-19 vaccination cards. (ANI)

Pakistan reports 3,084 new COVID-19 cases


Islamabad : Pakistan on Saturday reported 3,084 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of cases to 11,19,970.

So far Pakistan has reported 24,848 deaths due to COVID-19 of which 65 people lost their lives in the last 24 hours, Geo News reported citing the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC).
The number of active cases stood at 89,044, while the country reported 1,006,078 recoveries.

The positivity rate now stands at 5.73 per cent, Geo News reported.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has administered at least 4,47,36,977 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far. (ANI)

Covid Restrictions: Australia further restricts international movement due to COVID-19

Canberra [Australia]: Australians who live overseas will now be required to provide “compelling reasons” for returning to their place of residence after visiting as the country further toughens ban on international travel over the COVID-19 threat, the ABC reported on Friday, citing yet unpublished government regulations.

The decision took many Australians by surprise, as expats fear they will not be allowed to enter their home country for a visit or, alternatively, be allowed to return to their country of residence, the news said.
Currently, Australians who can provide proof that they reside outside Australia are automatically exempted from the travel ban and can cross the border. However, under the new regulations, citizens will need to get a permission from the authorities in order to leave. At the same time, the government did not specify which reasons for leaving are considered “compelling.”

“We’ve seen too many instances where people have left the country only for in relatively short order to put their names on the request list to come back into the country,” Simon Birmingham, the country’s Finance Minister, was quoted as saying by the ABC as he clarified the need for toughening the requirements.

He noted that short-term visits put additional pressure on Australia’s healthcare system and limit the number of facilities able to accommodate the “returning Australians,” according to the report.

There are currently thousands of Australians overseas waiting in line to return to Australia due to weekly quotas as they have to go through a two-week quarantine in a special facility upon arrival. (ANI/Sputnik)

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