covid

Social media exposes China’s blatant human rights violations in Shanghai amid Zero-COVID policy

Beijing [China]: Shanghai residents, at the hands of China’s Zero-Covid policy, are being subjected to unprecedented neglect, mistreatment, and abuse, with leaked videos on social media confirming blatant human rights violations.

Disguised as “pandemic prevention”, these violations have exposed the cruel and inhumane side of Communist China’s system. It also brings to light China’s rigid and ineffective governance of the country, reported National Review, a US-based magazine.
Many leaked videos on social media show President Xi Jinping’s enforcers in white medical-isolation gowns beating people up, taking them away, or welding doors and shutting entryways with metal bars. Tens of thousands of people are being detained in makeshift quarantine camps.

These so-called pandemic rules have inflicted great misery on Shanghai residents. Men and women, adults and children, are crowded together under one roof, with insufficient food and a lack of other basic necessities.

The cruel treatment by the Chinese government has raised awareness in people in regard to their political and civil rights. Not only in Shanghai, but across the country people are now speaking out for themselves and their communities.

Beijing’s brutality caused many people to protest for their rights and stand up against the government. In the video ‘Voice of April’, Shanghai residents depict the endless suffering of people under the zero-Covid policy.

The video went viral and unveiled China’s censorship of its own citizens. Moreover, a Shanghai-based rapper Astro released a song, “New Slave,” to condemn China’s abuse of power and its neglect of human life.

These inhumane actions taken by China had more and more people come out to sing the national anthem, in particular, the line “Arise! Ye who refuse to be bond slaves!”

China with a view to suppressing the voice of its citizens, ironically, had to censor its own national anthem. Expressing concern and condemnation of the government’s stern Zero-COVID policies, Shanghai residents have formed a self-assistance and self-governance commission, unequivocally demanding democracy and freedom, and urging mass civil disobedience.

Xi Jinping has paid no regard to the sufferings of the people and has only acted upon his own will and interests. According to the media outlet, the Biden administration should condemn the CCP’s violence and not remain silent about Beijing’s gross human rights violations during the pandemic.

It urged the United States and the international community to stand up and speak out in support of the people of Shanghai and China and aim to stop the Communist Party’s atrocities. (ANI)

 

US President appreciates Bhavana for inventing Virus Combat Robot-VCR to Fight Covid

US President Joe Biden has written a letter of appreciation to 14 yrs old Bhavana Katta who is a class nine student at Flower Mound Marcus in North Texas, USA. She has created a Robot to fight infections or clean surfaces with UV light and disinfectant amid covid pandemic. She has invented the first version of,  the Virus Combat Robot, or VCR for short. This bot is having a boxy body sitting atop wheels, a white head with a human-like face on top, and two large foam arms falling at its sides with high-tech looking fingertips. The arms were made using old pool noodles and controlled by her key pad. This robot uses the UV lights and disinfectant sprayer to clean and disinfect any surface.  This unique VCR uses two web cameras, one in the head and the other in the body, to help the user navigate it remotely from a tablet computer. It can then roll through areas and spray a sanitizing disinfectant from its fingertips onto objects like furniture, surfaces, and walls – really anywhere you’d need to disinfect. She has designed the mechanical components of the VCR all the way down to the web-based controls she uses to navigate it. Katta also included speakers on the VCR so the user can talk to people who may be in an area that needs to be sanitized, as well as a hand sanitizer dispenser in the bot’s belly so they can de-germ themselves on the way out the door. 

In an exclusive interaction with our editor, Rajesh Vatsa, she explains her journey and achievement. Her family is equally excited.  

  •  Tell us something about your VCR.
Bhavana:  VCR stands for Virus Combat Robot. The robot is controlled by the web and I have the web control user friendly and easy to access. The robot is about 5 ft height, moves on wheels and also has speed control, and has 2 arms. So, the head is 3D printed and it can tilt and pan (2 DOF). And, it does this because the camera is in the head so when the user needs to look down from the camera at the ground, they can. The left arm goes 2 degrees of freedom (DOF) and in the left hand the middle finger is where the disinfectant sprayer comes out and the index and ring finger have UV lights so you can see where the disinfectant solution is going and the light kills bacteria. The right arm just gives a shake hand. In the middle there is screen. This robot is also a telepresence robot meaning that one person stands in front of the robot and the user stays where they are, and they can communicate through Jitsi (two way video and audio mobile conference). At the bottom there is a mobile touchless hand sanitizer dispenser. Finally, at the back there is an emergency stop button if something goes wrong.
  • From where and How the idea to create VCR came into your thoughts.
Bhavana:  The reason why I built this robot is because I saw some of my staff members at school disinfecting desks, chairs, and other furniture. And, the disinfecting solution is dangerous and harmful to the human body. So, my idea is that the staff member controls the robot at a far distance, staying safe.
US President Joe Biden has send this letter of appreciation to Bhavana.
  • What kind of role does Technology could play in our lives in the future?
Bhavana: Technology plays an important role in our lives today and in the future because our daily life is based on what technology does for us and we can’t live without it. Recently, technology is growing faster and it surrounds us everywhere we are. So, we should be aware of technology and how dependent we live off of it.
  • Which are your favorite subjects at the school?
Bhavana: Physics, Math, Electrical, Robotics, and Computer Programming are the subjects I like the most. I always love to read about science. Anything related with Computers always excited me.
  • Who else has helped you to create VCR?
Bhavana: My Dad, my Mom, and my little Brother have helped me to create this. They are equally excited to see that its working fine and now President Sir has appreciated our invention.
  • How do you feel after receiving the recognition from the US President and Vice President?
Bhavana: I feel proud and surprised to get that type of honor. I didn’t expect to get anything from creating VCR, but after receiving the letter I feel very prominent and grateful. This will motivate me to do better and I am working on it to improve it further.
  • VCR kind of innovations could help humanity at large. What else are you thinking of inventing in the future?
Bhavana:  Another idea that I am planning to create in the future is a robot that alerts students at school when a bus has arrived, this is because teachers don’t have to stand outside in the hot or cold while doing bus duty. I am working on this.
Bhavana with her VCR and Family members
  • What kind of support do you get from your teachers and family?
Bhavana:  Everyone supports me in everything I do, they all encourage me and give me recognition for what I create and what I am talented in. My parents are very caring and understanding, they support me in all the decisions I take. My little brother is smart, and I am a thankful elder sister.
  •  In which college would you like to join after school?
Bhavana: I would like to go to MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) to study electrical engineering and computer science. This is my goal to achieve further. I would like to invent things which our people can use and benefit.
  • Who is your inspiration?
Bhavana: My inspirations are based on what incidents happen around the community and I find ways to solve those problems and make them better. I like to read about great scientists and new inventions, new technology.
Bhavana with her younger Brother
Her father Mr. Srinivas Katta and Mother Mrs Gayatri Katta are so happy for Bhavana. They belong to Amalapuram, East Godavari District, Andhra Pradesh, southern state in India. Gayatri Katta admires her daughter, “She is a God’s gift and I am filled with gratitude for her. Bhavana is an amazing daughter.” For her father, she is very smart and innovative, she is amazing. He says that Bhavana is very helpful in nature and is independent. 
#Bhavana #katta #VCR #Virus #covid #fightingcovid #indianGirlinUS #PrideofAP

Delhi makes masks mandatory in public places, re-imposes fine

New Delhi [India]: Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in the national capital, the Delhi government on Friday announced the re-imposition of a fine of Rs 500 on those found not wearing masks in public places with immediate effect.

However, the fine will not be applicable to persons travelling together in private four-wheeler vehicles.
The decision has been taken as the positivity rate of COVID-19 infection has been increasing in Delhi over the past fortnight.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) had in its meeting on Wednesday decided to make masks mandatory in public places.

“A fine of Rs 500 for not wearing of face mask/cover in all public places in Delhi will be imposed from immediate effect till further orders in compliance of Notification dated February 26, 2022. Further, the fine under this provision of the notification will not be applicable to persons travelling together in private four-wheeler vehicles,” the Health and Family Welfare Department’s order reads.

DDMA after examining all relevant facts related to the penal provisions for not adhering to COVID-19 protocols of wearing masks in public places decided to impose the fine with immediate effect.

This comes after the Delhi government on Friday released the Special Operating Procedure (SOPs) to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

According to the SoP issued by the Directorate of Education, the deployment of school staff, who would make sure no student or staff with COVID symptoms enter the school premises, has been made mandatory at the main gate. Thermal screening too has been made compulsory at the main gate.

Hand sanitization has also been made mandatory at school entrances, classrooms, labs and public places.

The SoP also suggests that parents should not send their children to school if any family member shows COVID symptoms, and the teachers should seek information about the family members of students and whether they have COVID symptoms while taking takes attendance.

Notably, 965 new COVID cases were reported in Delhi yesterday and a day before that the number was 1,009. The active cases in the city have crossed the 3,000 mark.

Nearly three weeks ago, when Delhi witnessed a dip in the daily infections, the DDMA had issued an order removing the fine for not wearing masks. However, it had advised people to continue using them in crowded places. (ANI)

India logs 1,150 COVID cases in last 24 hours, up by 175

New Delhi [India]: India logged 1,150 fresh infections in the last 24 hours, 175 more than yesterday, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Sunday.

The active cases in the country increased to 11,558 which accounts for 0.03 per cent of the total cases.
During this period, the daily case positivity rate remained 0.31 per cent, a minor drop from what was reported on Saturday (0.32 PC). However, the weekly positivity rate saw a minor uptick as it currently stands at 0.27 per cent.

As many as 954 COVID patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours. The total number of recoveries jumped to 4,25,08,788 since the beginning of the pandemic in the country.

The recovery rate currently is at 98.76 per cent.

According to the Ministry, four fresh deaths have been confirmed as COVID 19 deaths in the last twenty four hours. The death toll rose to 5,21,751.

The country tested 3,65,118 COVID samples in the last 24 hours. The total number of tests conducted so far is 83.18 crore.

As far as the vaccination under the Nationwide Vaccination Drive is concerned, 12,56,533 COVID vaccines were administered during this period taking the cumulative vaccine shots jabbed to 1,86,51,53,593. (ANI)

 

44 children test COVID-positive in Noida in past 7 days

Noida (Uttar Pradesh) [India]: A total of 44 children tested COVID-positive in the past seven days in Uttar Pradesh’s Noida, the health department said on Friday.

The number of active cases has crossed the 150-mark in Noida, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Sunil Kumar Sharma said.
“As many as 44 children tested COVID positive in the last seven days, of which 16 children are below 18 years. There are 167 active COVID cases in Noida. Percentage of children affected 26.3 per cent,” CMO said.

Meanwhile, India reported 949 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours, informed the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday.

The active cases in the country stand at 11,191 which is 0.03 per cent of the total cases. (ANI)

 

Shanghai’s stringent COVID lockdown puts megacity out of food

Beijing [China]: As Shanghai’s COVID-19 lockdown leaves residents struggling to access essentials, residents of the mega Chinese city are almost out of food and they are reeling under an acute food crisis.

They say that they “only eat one meal a day” and “don’t know how to live until May”, The HK Post reported. According to the report, the epidemic situation in Shanghai is still deteriorating, and the number of infected people is still high under the “zero lockdown” policy.
On April 3, the Chinese government announced the deployment of thousands of military personnel to Shanghai to assist in the mandatory testing of all 25 million residents for the virus that causes COVID-19. Later, Shanghai authorities said the city would indefinitely remain under lockdown – meaning that residents are not allowed to leave their homes – as it reviews results of the mass Covid testing.

Analysts have said China would not risk relaxing its zero-Covid stance before then, over fears of a destabilizing outbreak. Meanwhile, health experts have warned the virus could overwhelm health care systems, and put the elderly, who lag in vaccinations, at risk, CNN reported.

But even as Beijing sticks to its zero-tolerance approach, it is facing the possibility of multiple major outbreaks as Omicron spreads, the report added.

According to the authorities, Shanghai has had more than 130,000 COVID cases since 1 March, yet nobody has died and there is only one seriously ill person. Such statistics fly in the face of the rest of the world’s experience with COVID.

Wu Zunyou of China’s Center for Disease Control said death rates were minimal because of efforts to curb outbreaks early and China’s high vaccination rate. “Compared with overseas, our country’s COVID-19 death rate is low because of the various measures to prevent or reduce deaths.”

When reporting deaths, there are strong incentives in China not to attribute them directly to COVID if alternative underlying conditions are available. Because of official obfuscation, it is simply impossible to know how many have died from COVID there. China also spends lots of time blaming imported frozen food and mail for spreading COVID.

Beijing claims a Zero-COVID policy must be followed because “Omicron can generate a higher mortality rate than Delta during the epidemic”. This assertion is verifiably false. Perhaps other reasons are more pertinent to the CCP’s choice of a Zero-COVID policy. (ANI)

 

South Korea reports 286,294 new COVID-19 cases

Seoul [South Korea]: South Korea reported 286,294 new COVID-19 cases as of midnight Tuesday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 14,553,644, the health authorities said Wednesday.

The daily caseload was up from 266,135 the previous day, but it was lower than 424,597 a week earlier, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
The spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant and its subvariant BA.2 drove the recent resurgence, especially in the Seoul metropolitan area.

Of the new cases, 52,430 were Seoul residents. The number of newly infected people living in Gyeonggi province and the western port city of Incheon was 76,899 and 14,844, respectively.

The virus spread also raged in the non-metropolitan region. The number of new infections in the non-capital areas was 142,099, or 49.6 per cent of the total local transmission.

Among the new cases, 22 were imported, lifting the total to 31,259.

The number of infected people who were in a serious condition stood at 1,128, up to seven from the previous day.

A total of 371 more deaths were confirmed, leaving the death toll at 18,033. The total fatality rate was 0.12 per cent.

The number of people who received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines was 44,504,308, or 86.7 per cent of the total population, and the figure for those getting booster jabs was 32,840,952 people or 64.0 per cent of the population. (ANI/Xinhua)

 

Maharashtra, West Bengal and other states lift all COVID-19 restrictions from April 2, mask not mandatory

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: The Maharashtra Government on Thursday announced that all COVID-19 related restrictions including the wearing of masks in public places will be withdrawn from Saturday.

“We will withdraw all the COVID-19 related restrictions from the state from Gudi Padwa. The decision has been taken today in the cabinet meeting. An order will be issued for the same. We will withdraw the order which made it mandatory to wear a mask,” said Health Minister Rajesh Tope after the cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Chief Minister Thackeray said that the Gudi Padwa festival marks the new year.

“All COVID restrictions in Maharashtra will be lifted, as we bring in the new year this Gudi Padwa!” tweeted the Chief Minister.

The Disaster Management Act as well as the Infectious Diseases Prevention Act which were invoked with the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic will be withdrawn.

In Bengal, in view of the overall decline in the total caseload and positivity rate and overall improvement in the situation, the government in West Bengal revoked COVID-19 restrictions in the state on Thursday. “It is hereby notified that as currently in force by aforesaid orders are hereby withdrawn. However, advisory in respect of health and hygiene protocols including wearing of masks at all times, hand hygiene and sanitization of public places shall continue to be strictly observed until further orders,” said the state government in an official release.
The employers, management bodies, owners, supervisors of all offices, establishments and workplaces shall be responsible for the provisioning of all COVID safety measures including regular sanitization of workplaces and COVID appropriate norms, directed the government.
The state government also instructed the district administration, police commissionerates and local authorities to ensure strict compliance of health and hygiene protocols and advisories on COVID appropriate behaviour.

“Restrictions like 50 per cent capacity in buses, restaurants and cinema theatres, double vaccination compulsion in travel and buses will be withdrawn,” said Tope.

However, the Health Minister advised the citizens to adhere to COVID appropriate behaviour.

The Health Minister cited the decline in daily COVID-19 cases and positivity rate as the reason behind withdrawing the restrictions.

Maharashtra on Thursday reported 183 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the number of active cases to 902.

One fatality was reported in the last 24 hours, as per the bulletin released on Thursday.

Meanwhile, India logged 1,233 new COVID cases in the last 24 hours, Union Health Ministry informed on Wednesday.

In the last 24 hours, as per the Ministry, 1,876 recoveries were also reported. With total recoveries since the beginning of the COVID pandemic at 4,24,87,410, the recovery rate of India presently stands at 98.75 per cent. (ANI)

New post-pandemic world order shaping up, India needs to grow fast: PM Modi

New Delhi [India]: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that India needs to develop at a faster pace to find its role while the new world order shapes up in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister said that the whole world is looking at India. “In the circumstances created by COVID-19, new world order is emerging. In this new order, India has to develop itself at a faster pace,” he added.
The Prime Minister was addressing a valedictory function of the 96th Common Foundation Course at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie via video conferencing.

He said that the current batch of civil servants will play a big role in the development of the country in the next 25 years.

“Over the years, I have spoken to and spent a long time with various batches of Civil Servants. But this batch is very special. You are starting your work in the 75th year of India’s Independence. In this Amrit Kaal, you will play a big role in the development of the country in the next 25 years,” said PM Modi.

He further urged the civil servants to keep the goals of building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat and laying the foundation of ‘New, Modern India’ at the top of their priorities.

“You always have to keep the goals of 21st century India in mind. The goal of building an Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the goal of laying the foundation of New, Modern India,” said PM Modi.

The Prime Minister also stated that the inauguration of the new sports complex and revamped Happy Valley Complex will give a new direction to the Academy.

“During training, you were enlightened with the vision of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Service and duty have been a vital part of your training. The importance of service and sense of duty has been an integral part of your training,” he added.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the new sports complex and dedicated the revamped ‘Happy Valley Complex’ to the nation.

Based on the principle of ‘Mission Karmyogi’, with new pedagogy and design, the 96th Foundation Course at LBSNAA comprises 488 (Officer-trainees) OTs from 16 services and three Royal Bhutan Services (Administrative, Police, and Forest).

The new pedagogy based on the principles of ‘Mission Karmayogi’ was designed to harness the adventurous and innovative spirit of the youthful batch, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said in an official statement.

As per the PMO, the 96th Foundation Course is the first Common Foundation Course at LBSNAA based on the principle of ‘Mission Karmyogi’, with new pedagogy and design. Emphasis was put on transforming the Officer Trainee from a student/civilian into a public servant through initiatives like interaction with the Padma Awardees in the spirit of ‘Sabka Prayas’. All 488 Officer Trainees were given first-level training in Krav Maga and various other sports. (ANI)

COVID-19: Centre requests States, UTs to accelerate second dose coverage among 15-18 age group

                

New Delhi [India], (ANI): The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday requested States and Union Territories to direct concerned officials to accelerate the second dose coverage amongst due beneficiaries aged 15-18 years while ensuring that remaining beneficiaries for the first dose also receive it in a time-bound manner.

“I hereby request you to direct the concerned officials to accelerate the 2nd dose coverage amongst due beneficiaries aged 15-18 years while also ensuring that remaining beneficiaries for 1st dose also receive it in a time-bound manner,” read the letter by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan to states and UTs.
The letter highlighted that the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination programme of India has been expanded in a phased manner based on available scientific evidence and global best practices and presently, all persons aged 15 years and above are eligible for vaccination.

With the proactive efforts of States/UTs, along with the Government of India, the Centre has administered more than 166.68 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine which is amongst the highest in the world.

COVID-19 vaccination for 15-18 years’ age-group started from January 3, 2022, and as on date, more than 4.66 crore doses have been administered in this age group resulting in the first dose coverage of 63 per cent in a span of less than a month.

The vaccine used in this group is Covaxin which has an interval of 28 days between the two doses to complete the primary vaccination schedule, read the letter.

The health ministry suggested that a tailored communication strategy focused at an adolescent population and their caregivers should also be rolled out to make them aware about the timely completion of vaccination schedule and sustain their vaccine confidence. Image (instagram)

Karnataka reports 50,210 new COVID cases, positivity rate reaches 22.77 pc

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Karnataka reported 50,210 new COVID-19 cases, of which 26,299 were from the state’s capital Bengaluru, Health Minister K Sudhakar informed on Sunday.
Presently, there are as many as 3,57,796 active cases in the state, while the COVID positivity rate stands at 22.77 per cent. In Karnataka, 22,842 recoveries from the virus and 19 Covid deaths have also been reported in the last 24 hours.
Sudhakar further informed that 165 new cases of Omicron have been confirmed in Bengaluru today, taking the overall tally in the state to 931. (Image source: Instagram)

Philippines logs 24,938 new COVID-19 cases

Manila [Philippines] (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 24,938 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, raising the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,442,056.
The DOH said the number of active cases dropped to 262,997, as the country’s positivity rate also dipped to 40.6 percent. The DOH added that 47 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country’s death toll to 53,519.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the Omicron variant-fueled COVID-19 surge in Metro Manila has peaked.
“We see that cases in Metro Manila have been decreasing for the past few days, accounting for a smaller percentage of the total cases,” Duque told a virtual press conference.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire echoed Duque’s statement. “It looks like we have reached the highest number of cases in Metro Manila, and slowly cases are going down,” she said, adding that infections in regions outside the national capital region continue to rise.
Many Filipinos who contracted the virus have opted to get the less expensive rapid antigen tests, indicating that the actual number is likely to be higher than the reported as antigen tests are not included in the reported cases.
The Philippines is grappling with an Omicron-driven COVID-19 surge, the fourth wave the country has seen since the outbreak in 2020.
The country reported the highest single-day tally on January 15, with 39,004 new cases. (Image source: Instagram)

Delhi logs 9,197 new COVID-19 cases

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Delhi continues to register a decline in its daily COVID-19 caseload, logging 9,197 new cases during the last 24 hours, said the state government on Sunday.
As per the bulletin provided by the Health Department, the positivity rate for the day has declined to 13.32 per cent. A total of 69,022 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. During the last 24 hours, 13,510 patients recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries in the national capital to 17,11,845.
Meanwhile, 34 people lost their lives to the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. The death toll in Delhi due to the disease currently stands at 25,620.
There are currently 54,246 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, out of which 42,438 are currently in home isolation. There are currently 44,132 active containment zones in the national capital.
As per the bulletin, there are currently 2,424 patients admitted to hospitals across Delhi. Out of this, 82 patients are suspected to have COVID-19 while 2,342 are confirmed cases of the disease. Of these 2,342 patients, 1,982 are from Delhi while 360 are from outside.
Of the confirmed COVID-19 patients, 814 are currently on Oxygen support, 808 on ICU support while 164 patients are on ventilator support.
As per the bulletin, 83.69 per cent of beds in dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across Delhi are vacant with only 2,424 beds out of 15,411 being currently occupied by patients. Similarly in COVID-19 care centres, 95.05 per cent of beds are empty, with only 249 out of a total of 5,026 beds being currently occupied. Lastly, in the COVID Health centres, 89.80 per cent of beds are empty, with only 20 out of total 196 beds being occupied by patients.
During the last 24 hours, 74,246 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered in the national capital as per the bulletin. Out of this, 31,809 people have been administered the first dose of the vaccine while 32,429 people have been administered the second dose.
Meanwhile, 14,102 children aged 15-18 years received their first dose of the vaccine, taking the total number of beneficiaries of the first dose in the aforementioned age bracket to 7,41,064.
A total of 2,91,76,984 vaccination doses have been administered to date out of which 1,68,31,875 people have received their first dose while 1,21,34,952 people have received their second dose of the vaccine. (Image source: Unsplash)

Tamil Nadu govt to consider withdrawing Sunday lockdown

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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.

Rajya Sabha chairman Naidu, 875 parliamentary staff members test COVID-19 positive

                Rajya Sabha chairman Naidu, 875 parliamentary staff members test COVID-19 positive

New Delhi [India], (ANI): Ahead of the Budget session of Parliament, a total of 875 staff members have tested COVID-19 positive in the House so far, said official sources on Sunday.

As per official sources, as many as 2,847 COVID-19 tests were conducted till January 20, out of which, 875 parliamentary staff members had tested positive.
Of these, a total of 915 tests were done by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat, out of which 271 cases found positive against coronavirus infection.

On Sunday afternoon, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu also tested positive for COVID-19 in Hyderabad and said that he has isolated himself.

Taking to Twitter, the Vice President of India said, “The Vice President, M Venkaiah Naidu, who is in Hyderabad, tested COVID positive today. He has decided to remain in self-isolation for a week. He has advised all those who came in contact with him to isolate themselves and get tested.”

The Rajya Sabha chairman also tested positive against coronavirus disease during the second wave in the mid of 2021.

The Vice President has given clear instructions to conduct as many tests as possible and to also ensure that all help is provided to the secretariat officials including any need of medical facilities and hospitalisation for the staff and family members.

Further, Rajya Sabha Secretariat has reimposed restrictions on the attendance of officials and staff to decrease the COVID-19 cases.

As per the directions, 50 per cent of officials and staff below the rank of Under Secretary or Executive officer are required to work from home till the end of this month. They constitute about 65 per cent of the total employees.

Those with disabilities and pregnant women are exempted from attending office. Starting and closing timings of the Secretariat are staggered to avoid crowding, according to the latest order.

Notably, the monsoon session in 2020 was the first full session held under COVID-19 protocols with the Rajya sabha meeting in the first half of the day and Lok sabha during the second half. The same was followed for the first part of the Budget session during 2021.

For the second part of the Budget session and monsoon and winter sessions last year, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha reverted to normal timings but members sitting in the chambers and galleries of respective Houses.

Given the rising number of cases in India during the ongoing third surge of COVID-19 infection, the Budget session of Parliament slated to begin in a week is likely to happen with strict COVID protocols in place.

Meanwhile, from January 4 to 8, around 65 of Rajya Sabha Secretariat, 200 of Lok Sabha Secretariat and 133 of allied services had tested COVID positive.

The budget session of Parliament will be underway from January 31 and will conclude on April 8.

Two arrested in Hyderabad for providing fake RT-PCR test reports, COVID vaccination certificates

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): Hyderabad Police arrested two people for providing fake RT-PCR COVID-19 test reports without taking swabs and vaccination certificates without administration of the physical doses.
Chakravarthy Gummi, Deputy Commissioner of Police said that the arrested persons sold fake RTPCR test reports and vaccination certificates by collecting money. The two accused were arrested in two different cases under Malakpet and Humayun Nagar police stations. According to Police, one of the arrested persons, P Laxman worked at different diagnostic centres as a lab technician. About a year ago, he opened his own diagnostic centre at Asman Ghat under Malakpet police station. He tied up with MedicsPathlabs India to send his collected samples and to get test reports. The accused tore the kits and sent dummy samples to Madcis Pathlabs. For issuing negative reports and issuing fake certificates, he collected between Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 per certificate.
Hyderabad Police seized 65 fake RTPCR certificates, 20 sample collection kits, and a mobile phone from Laxman.
In the second case, the arrested person MD Tariq, who used to work as a lab technician at different diagnostic centres earlier, opened his own diagnostic centre, “Image Diagnostic Center”, at Murad Nagar, Asif Naga year ago. Later, he partnered with laboratories to send his samples.
Police said in collusion with one Kumari, a computer operator at Afzal Sagar, Tariq started providing vaccination certificates to customers without physical doses and issued forged RTPCR reports by charging Rs 800 to Rs 1,000.
Hyderabad police seized 50 fake COVID vaccine certificates, 10 RTPCR reports and 2 mobile phones from MD Tariq.
Further investigation is underway. (Image source: Unsplash)

Philippines logs 30,552 new COVID-19 cases

Manila [Philippines] (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported 30,552 new COVID-19 infections on Saturday, raising the number of confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 3,387,524.
The number of active cases decreased to 280,619 from a record of 291,618 on Friday. The country’s positivity rate rose further to 45.1 per cent from 44 per cent the previous day. The DOH said 97 more people died from COVID-19 complications, pushing the country’s death toll to 53,406.
The Philippines is grappling with the fourth wave of infections amid the fast-spreading Omicron variant. The country reported the highest single-day tally on January 15 with 39,004 new cases.
The country, which has around 110 million population, has tested so far more than 24 million people. (Image source: Instagram)

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

New Delhi [India] (ANI): 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 source: Instagram)

France to ease COVID-19 restrictions in February

Paris [France] (ANI/Xinhua): French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday evening that the government will proceed to ease certain COVID-19 related restrictions in February.
During a press conference, Castex stressed that the Omicron variant “is absolutely not just a flu.” He once again recalled the importance of being vaccinated, saying that a fully vaccinated person is 4.5 times more unlikely to be infected than a non-vaccinated, and has 25 times less chance to turn into severe cases.
Castex announced that the vaccine pass, replacing the current health pass, will be effective on Jan. 24, subject to the decision of the Constitutional Council on Friday.
The vaccine pass enables people to gain access to public venues without the need to present a negative COVID-19 test.
As for access to nursing homes and hospitals, the vaccine pass won’t be mandatory. Children between the ages of 12 to 15 can present a health pass and not a vaccine pass, the Prime Minister added.
He reminded that, effective from Feb. 15, all persons that haven’t received the booster shot four month following the second dose will not be considered as having a complete vaccination cycle.
However, Castex announced that starting from February, certain restriction measures will be eased.
From Feb. 2, caps on the number of people allowed in indoor and outdoor events will be lifted. Masks will no longer be required outdoors.
Teleworking will also no longer be mandatory, but still encouraged, he added.
Starting from Feb. 16, eating and drinking in stadiums, cinemas, public transports will again be allowed, as well as standing in bars, concerts and the opening of nightclubs.
The Scientific Council announced in a statement on Thursday that “the fifth wave with the Omicron variant is not over and its impact on the healthcare system will remain high but partially manageable until mid-March.”
In the evening, the French Public Health Agency reported 425,183 new COVID-19 cases detected in the past 24 hours.
More than 52 million people have had a complete vaccination cycle, representing 77.7 percent of the French population. (Image source: Unsplash)

Positivity rate soars near 45 pc as Nepal continues to register record number of COVID cases

Kathmandu [Nepal] (ANI): Nepal on Thursday registered another record number of 12,338 new cases of COVID-19 as the positivity rate in the Himalayan Nation soared to about 45 per cent.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, new cases has been confirmed after 21,007 samples underwent RT-PCR and 6,490 samples underwent antigen tests in the last 24 hours. Earlier on Wednesday alone, Nepal had recorded 11,353 new cases of infection. As per the ministry, the Himalayan Nation buffered between India and China now has a positivity rate of 44.87 per cent while the recovery rate stands at 92.2 per cent. For the third day in a row, the COVID cases in Nepal have set a record-high number of cases and are expected to reach about 20,000 cases on a daily basis as it reaches the peak.
On Thursday, Kathmandu Valley registered more than half of the confirmed cases out of which Kathmandu registered 5,001 cases, Bhaktapur recorded 850 and Lalitpur recorded 1,130 cases.
According to the Ministry of Health and Population, there were four coronavirus-related deaths reported in the past 24 hours. With this, the COVID-19 death toll in the country is 11,632 to date.
Currently, there are 57,328 active cases in the country. In the past 24-hour period, 649 infected patients recovered. (Image source: Instagram)

COVID-19 vaccination for children below 15 yrs to begin after scientific evidence: Centre

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Union Health Ministry will decide about COVID-19 vaccination for children less than 15 years of age only after scientific evidence, said Rajesh Bhushan, Health Secretary while addressing a press briefing on Thursday. “From January 16, 2021, COVID-19 vaccination has been started and rolled out based on scientific evidence and assumptions of protecting the most vulnerable people. So, as the scientific evidence evolved, we will be expanding the coverage of vaccination. We will take a decision on the basis of scientific evidence for below 15 years old children,” Bhushan said.
Further, Dr VK Paul, Member (Health) Niti Aayog explained, “COVID-19 vaccination for 12 years old is our next goal. These decisions will only be taken after scientific information and scientific decision. We are working on it also.”
Earlier, the official sources reported ANI that vaccination for those under 15 years of age has not been yet taken by the Union Health Ministry.
The Central government also informed that 72 per cent of India’s adult population is fully vaccinated whereas around 52 per cent of children in the 15-18 years old age group have been inoculated with the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, the health officials said that the adolescents in the age group of 15-18 years are actively participating in the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
On Monday, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya also said that over 3.5 crore teenagers between the age limit of 15 to 18 years have received the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Amazing enthusiasm among young India for COVID-19 vaccination. Over 3.5 crore children between the 15-18 age group have received 1st dose of the COVID vaccine since January 3. Congratulations to all my young friends who have got vaccinated,” the health minister tweeted.
So far, India has administered 3.45 crore first doses of COVID-19 vaccination to children in the age group of 15-18 years old.
The country began vaccinating children between the ages of 15-18 years from January 3 after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement on December 25 last year.
Notably, India may begin inoculating children in the age group of 12-14 years against COVID-19 in March this year, as per the statement given by Dr NK Arora who is the Chairman of the COVID-19 working group of NTAGI. (Image source: Unsplash)

No relaxation on COVID norms in Delhi as positivity rate ‘not low enough’: Satyendar Jain

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said that even though the COVID-19 positivity rate in the national capital has declined from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent with a decrease in the number of infections as well, the COVID norms in the city will not be relaxed as the positivity rate is still not “low enough”.
While addressing media persons, Satyendar Jain said, “The positivity rate has come down from 30 per cent to 22.5 per cent and the total number of cases in Delhi has also decreased. However, the positivity rate is not low enough that we can relax the COVID restrictions.” According to the health minister, Delhi is likely to record 13,000 new COVID-19 cases today with a positivity rate of 24 per cent.
“Today, a positivity rate24 of per cent is likely to be reported along with around 13,000 fresh infections. There is not much occupancy in hospitals and beds are also vacant. We are doing more testing in Delhi,” he said.
Meanwhile, Delhi on Tuesday continued to report a dip in the number of daily COVID-19 cases with 11,684 fresh infections.
The positivity rate for the day also declined to 22.47 per cent. As per yesterday’s COVID-19 bulletin, there are 78,112 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, out of which, 63,432 are currently in home isolation.

West Bengal eases COVID restrictions, allows gyms to operate with 50 pc capacity

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): West Bengal government has decided to ease COVID-19 restrictions in the state from January 18.
According to the new notification, gyms can operate with 50 per cent capacity till 9 pm provided staff and users are fully vaccinated or RTPCR negative. The government has allowed Jatra (local theatres) with 50 per cent capacity till 9 pm while outdoor shooting for films and TV programmes are allowed in the state following COVID appropriate protocols.
The government has asked people to wear masks and maintain social distancing in view of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, West Bengal logged 9,385 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking the total active cases in the state to 1,58,623, stated the health bulletin. (Image source: Instagram)

Karnataka government order bars doctors from spreading misinformation about Covid-19

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Kerala government on Tuesday restricted medical practitioners from spreading incomplete, inaccurate, and unsubstantiated information about COVID-19 to the public on various media platforms.
In an official statement issued by the Commissionerate of Health and Family Welfares services, the state government said, “such misinformation leads to confusion in public at large on the prevailing COVID-19 scenario in the state and encourages them to deviate from well laid out guidelines issues by health and revenue authorities.” It further suggested that medical practitioners being proficient in fields should exercise utmost care and caution while communicating with the public on COVID-19.
It is expected that medical practitioners shall refer to the guidelines or orders issued by the government of Karnataka and any media platform, the statement read.
The state government warned that any misinformation on COVID-19 shared on such platforms would be initiated as per section 54 of the Disaster management act 2005 and sec 4(K) of the Karnataka Epidemic Disease Act, 2020. (Image source: Instagram)

Over 3.5 cr children between 15-18 receive 1st dose of COVID vaccine in India so far

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Union Health Minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya on Monday informed that over 3.5 crore children between the 15-18 age group have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine so far in the country, since January 3, the commencement of vaccination drive for the age group.
Taking to Twitter, Mandaviya said, “Amazing enthusiasm among Young India for COVID-19 vaccination. Over 3.5 crore children between the 15-18 Age group have received 1st dose of COVID-19 vaccine, since 3rd January. Congratulations to all my young friends who have got vaccinated.” As per the Union Health Ministry, with the administration of more than 39 lakh (39,46,348) vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 157.20 Cr (1,57,20,41,825) as per provisional reports till 7 am today. (Image source: Instagram)

Telangana CM to hold cabinet meeting on Monday as COVID cases surge

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao will hold a cabinet meeting on Monday in the wake of rising COVID-19 cases in the state.
The cabinet meeting will be held on Monday at 2 pm in Pragathi Bhavan under Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, to discuss COVID-related matters, the Chief Minister’s office said. Telangana government on Sunday extended vacations for all educational institutions till January 30, 2022.
“It has been decided to extend the vacation of all educational institutions in Telangana till January 30, 2022,” office of Telangana Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar tweeted.
Earlier, the State government declared holidays for all educational institutions from January 8 to 16.
Telangana on Saturdy reported 1,963 new COVID-19 cases taking the cumulative tally to 7,07,162. There are 22017 active cases. The cumulative recoveries registered in Telangana is at 6,81,091 and the death toll is 4,054. The recovery rate in the state is at 96.31 per cent and case fatality rate is 0.57 per cent. (Image source: Instagram)

Cuba registers 3,506 new COVID-19 cases

Havana [Cuba] (ANI/Xinhua): Cuba registered 3,506 confirmed cases and three more related deaths from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, pushing the national count to 995,631 cases and 8,335 deaths, respectively, the health ministry has said.
The ministry on Saturday added that the largest number of cases was reported in the central province of Camaguey (440), followed by the provinces of Pinar del Rio (290) and Holguin (289). At present, there are 15,261 active cases in the Caribbean nation, 48 of them being treated in intensive care units.
So far, over 87 percent of the country’s population has been fully jabbed with home-grown vaccines against COVID-19, the ministry said. (Image source: Instagram)

US sees highest rate of children COVID-19 hospitalizations

Washington [US] (ANI/Xinhua): US pediatric hospitalizations related to COVID-19 are at the highest level since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The country is averaging 893 new hospital admissions each day for children 17 years and under, a record high since the CDC started to track the number from August 2020. Most of these hospitalizations are because of COVID-19, although some are children who were admitted for other causes but tested positive for COVID-19 when they were admitted or during their hospital stay, according to the CDC.
The country saw over 90,000 total hospital admissions for children 17 years old and under from August 1, 2020 to January 13, 2022, CDC data showed.
The highest hospitalization rates among all children are in those ages newborn to 4 years, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.
The Omicron variant does not appear to cause more severe disease in children than other variants of the virus, and the overall rates of pediatric hospitalizations are still lower than in any adult age group, according to the CDC.
The CDC expected COVID-19 children hospitalizations would continue to increase in the coming weeks.
The CDC urged everyone ages 5 years and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against COVID-19. (Image source: Instagram)

Palestine reports 700 Omicron cases

Ramallah [Palestine] (ANI/Xinhua): A total of 700 Omicron infections has been reported in the Palestinian territories in less than two months, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.
Kamal al-Shakhra, a spokesman for the ministry, told reporters that the rapid increase in Omicron cases “is worrying.” Noting that the coronavirus positivity rate in the West Bank rose to 30 percent, al-Shakhra said the Omicron variant “is very dangerous for those who still haven’t received proper vaccinations.”
The spokesman warned of another surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming days, urging the public to get vaccines as soon as possible and abide by protective measures of wearing masks and social distancing.
On Sunday, the Health Ministry said in a statement that it recorded three deaths and 642 new COVID-19 cases in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip over the past 24 hours. (Image source: Unsplash)

No COVID-19 vaccination could mean no Roland Garros for Djokovic

Paris [France] (ANI): World number one Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in the French Open after France’s Sports Ministry on Monday said that there would be no exemption from the country’s new vaccine pass law for the anti-vaccine tennis player.
Djokovic was deported from Australia on Sunday after the Serbian lost his court case and hence he would not be able to defend his Australian Open title. “The rule is simple. The vaccine pass will be imposed, as soon as the law is promulgated, in establishments that were already subject to the health pass,” France’s Sports Ministry said, Sydney Morning Herald reported quoting Reuters.
“This will apply to everyone who is a spectator or a professional sportsperson. And this until further notice. Now, as far as Roland Garros is concerned, it’s in May. The situation may change between now and then and we hope that it will be more favourable. So we’ll see, but clearly, there’s no exemption,” it added.
France’s vaccine pass law that was approved by parliament on Sunday, will require people to have a certificate of vaccination to enter public places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, and long-distance trains.
Djokovic on Sunday had said that he is “extremely disappointed” by the Australian court’s ruling to dismiss the tennis player’s application for judicial review of the cancellation of his visa.
The world number one men’s singles player further confirmed that he will not participate in the Australian Open, where he is the three-time defending champion.
A statement released by the nine-time AO champion read: “I would like to make a brief statement to address the outcomes of today’s Court hearing. I will now be taking some time to rest and to recuperate, before making any further comments beyond this.”
“I am extremely disappointed with the Court ruling to dismiss my application for judicial review of the Minister’s decision to cancel my visa, which means I cannot stay in Australia and participate in the Australian Open,” he added.”
Djokovic on Sunday lost his appeal against deportation, the Chief Justice James Allsop of the Federal Court of Australia announced.
Djokovic’s visa was cancelled on Friday by Hawke, the Australian Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs. (Image source: Instagram)

Haryana, Delhi government in war of words over rising COVID-19 cases

Ambala (Haryana) [India] (ANI): A word of words broke out between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij after the latter blamed the high COVID-19 infection rate in three districts of the State adjoining Delhi on the “uncontrolled” rise in cases in the national capital.
Replying to his claims, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain termed it as “political talk” and said “over 1,000 COVID-19 cases are being reported from outside Delhi every day.” Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal told media persons, “Blaming won’t end the virus. I will not step into this garbage.”
Vij said Haryana was “adversely affected” due to its vicinity to Delhi, and claimed that “more than half” of the around 9,000 new COVID-19 cases in Haryana were from Gurugram, Faridabad and Sonipat districts put together.
“Haryana reports around 9,000 COVID-19 cases every day, of which over 50 per cent cases are from Gurugram, Faridabad and Sonipat. Delhi’s infection rate is having an impact in the state. However, as per requirements, we are tackling the situation by making all necessary arrangements of healthcare services in the state,” he said on Sunday.
Vij also said that whether patients come from Delhi or anywhere else, they will be given complete treatment in the state. (Image source: Instagram)

India’s first homegrown mRNA vaccine to be tested amid Omicron spike: Official sources

New Delhi [India], January 17 (ANI): The country’s first messenger mRNA vaccine is expected to begin trials on humans in February.
The Pune-based Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has submitted phase 2 data of mRNA vaccine and has also completed the recruitment of phase 3 data. Drugs Controller General of India’s (DCGI) Subject Expert Committee (SEC) is expected to review the data soon, the official sources said. Gennova Biopharmaceuticals has also developed the mRNA vaccine for the Omicron variant that will be tested on humans for efficacy and immunogenicity soon, the official sources said.
Earlier in the month of September 2021, the Gennova issued a press statement and updated about the vaccines trials, “The Drug Controller General of India, had approved Phase II and Phase III study protocols for HGCO19, India’s first mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine, developed by Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited (“Gennova”) back in August.”
“Gennova had submitted the interim clinical data of the Phase I study to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), the Government of India’s National Regulatory Authority (NRA). The Vaccine Subject Expert Committee (SEC) had reviewed the interim Phase I data, and found that HGCO19 was safe, tolerable, and immunogenic in the participants of the study,” it said
The company also mentioned the number of trials sites, “The study is being conducted in India at approximately 10-15 sites in Phase II and 22-27 sites in Phase III. Gennova is using the DBT-ICMR clinical trial network sites for this study.”
mRNA vaccines belong to the category of nucleic acid vaccines, which use genetic material from disease-causing virus or pathogen to trigger an immune response against it within the body. (Image source: Unsplash)

Tamil Nadu Govt shuts schools till January 31 due to Covid-19 surge

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India] (ANI): Amid the surge in the COVID-19 cases, the Tamil Nadu Government on Sunday declared a holiday in schools for all classes till January 31.
The State Government has also postponed the exams that were scheduled to be held on January 19. “Schools have been declared shut in Tamil Nadu for all classes, due to an increase in the number of COVID19 cases in the State. The exams which were supposed to be held on January 19 are now postponed,” read the release from Tamil Nadu government statement.
Meanwhile, there are currently 1,31,007 active COVID-19 cases in Tamil Nadu. The cumulative death toll of the State stood at 36,967. While the cumulative recoveries in the state stood at 27,47,974. (Image source: Instagram)

Philippines logs 37,154 new COVID-19 cases

Manila [Philippines] (ANI/Xinhua): The Philippines reported 37,154 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the total tally to 3,205,396.
The Department of Health (DOH) said the number of active cases soared to an all-time high of 287,856, and the coronavirus positivity rate rose to 47.4 percent for testings nationwide. The DOH said 50 more people died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the total death toll to 52,907. Twelve laboratories failed to submit data on Sunday.
The COVID-19 cases have surged to record highs this month in the Southeast Asian country. Authorities attributed the fourth wave of infections to high mobility, poor compliance with health protocols, and fast spreading of the Omicron and Delta variants of COVID-19.
The daily COVID-19 cases hit a record of 39,004 on Saturday in the country. The Philippines, which has around 110 million population, has tested more than 24 million people for COVID-19 since the pandemic in the country. (Image source: Unsplash)

Iran reports 2,292 new COVID-19 cases, 6,221,033 in total

Tehran [Iran] (ANI/Xinhua): Iran’s Health Ministry on Sunday reported 2,292 new COVID-19 daily cases, taking the country’s total infections to 6,221,033.
The pandemic also claimed 31 lives in the past 24 hours, bringing the national death toll to 132,075, said the ministry. A total of 6,064,646 people have recovered from the disease or been discharged from hospitals across the country, while 1,345 remain in intensive care units, it added.
By Sunday, 60,321,108 Iranians have received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Among them, 53,130,215 have taken the second dose, and 12,521,856 have received the third.
The report added that 43,410,121 tests have so far been carried out across the country. (Image source: Unsplash)

India was able to provide COVID-19 vaccines to over 100 countries with philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam: ICMR

New Delhi [India] (ANI): As India marks one year of the COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday, Dr Balram Bhargava, DG ICMR said that the country was able to provide vaccines to over 100 countries in line with our philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.
Speaking to ANI during the launch of commemorative postal stamps on indigenously developed Covaxin to mark one year of the vaccination drive, Dr Bhargava said, “It’s the largest vaccination drive in the world. We’ve administered over 156 crore doses in a year and were able to provide vaccines to over 100 countries in line with our philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’.” “It’s a great satisfaction for our country that we did not need to ask any country for the vaccine doses,” the ICMR official said
Speaking about the Omicron variant of coronavirus infection, he said, “We are in the midst of the Omicron variant. Although it’s slightly milder, it spreads very fast. We are worried about it and have started giving a precautionary dose to people above 60 years of age and people with comorbidities.”
Dr Bhargana further said that hopefully, the country will do much better this time with the lesser of hospitalisations and serious diseases with a large population.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya who virtually attended the event informed that around 70 per cent of India’s adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 while 93 per cent received the first jab.
“The drive was rolled out on January 16 last year with healthcare workers getting inoculated in the first phase,” the health minister said.
“Today is an important day for us as we have completed one year of vaccine drive. The world is amazed by our vaccination drive and over 156 crore doses administered,” he added.
Mandaviya congratulated India for crossing 157 crore COVID-19 vaccinations in just one year and said that the country has emerged as an example in the world in the fight against coronavirus infection.
“16th January 2021 will always be remembered! Congratulations India on crossing 157 crore #COVID19 vaccinations that too in just 1 year. With PM @NarendraModi
Ji’s mantra of ‘Sabka Prayas’, has emerged as an example in the world in fight against COVID-19. #1YearOfVaccineDrive,” Mandaviya tweeted.
India commenced its nationwide COVID vaccination drive on January 16, 2021.
Starting initially by inoculating vaccines to healthcare workers, it was then expanded to frontline workers, followed by people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with comorbidities. Later it was also expanded to all above 45 years of age and then those above 18 years of age.
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.
As per Union Health Ministry, 1,56,76,15,454 vaccine doses have been administered to eligible beneficiaries, as per provisional reports till 7 am on Sunday. In the last 24 hours, more than 66 lakh vaccine doses were administered.

COVID-19: Rajasthan roads deserted on Sunday as state imposes curfew

Jodhpur (Rajasthan) [India] (ANI): Roads were deserted in Rajasthan on Sunday as the state government imposed a Sunday curfew amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases.
According to the state order, the curfew begins from 11 pm on Saturday night and continues till 5 am on Monday morning. Following the curfew order, the roads were seen deserted from 8 o’clock on Saturday night. However, milk, fruits and vegetable shops were allowed to open on Sunday. The police had also conducted route marches in many areas on Saturday asking people to stay at home during curfew hours.
The Rajasthan Police made special arrangements for the weekend curfew on Sunday. “More than 500 policemen have been deployed throughout the day. Three to four checkpoints have been made by each police station”, stated the police.
“Police have intensified patrolling, raised barricades in Jodhpur to check violations of weekend curfew in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases. Strict action is being taken in case of non-emergency movement in the middle of weekend curfew”, said Sunil Charan, Police Officer, Khanda Falsa Police station.
“Those leaving home without work are being stopped at these checkpoints. Action is being taken against those who are roaming unnecessarily. They are being fined”, added the police officer. “The people who are out on road despite the curfew have to provide valid documents to sustain their movements”, said Sunil Charan.
Three to four points were made in the police station area, where ASI rank officers and jawans have been stationed. (Image source: Instagram)

COVID vaccination drive added strength to fight against infection, saved lives: PM Modi

New Delhi [India] (ANI): As India marks one year of the COVID vaccination drive on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the vaccination programme added great strength to the fight against the COVID-19.
The Prime Minister said that the vaccination drive led to saving lives and protecting livelihood. “Today we mark one year of Vaccine Drive. I salute each and every individual who is associated with the vaccination drive. Our vaccination programme has added great strength to the fight against COVID-19. It has led to saving lives and thus protecting livelihoods,” the Prime Minister tweeted.
Earlier in the day, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya had called the COVID vaccination drive the “most successful” in the world.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote, “Today the world’s largest vaccination campaign completes one year. Started under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, with everyone’s efforts, today, it is the most successful vaccination campaign in the world. I congratulate all the health workers, scientists and countrymen.”
“Due to the unity of people and commitment of PM Modi, India not only manufactured the vaccination against COVID-19 but also vaccinated a large part of the population. The one year of the COVID vaccination drive represents willpower of the country,” Mandaviya tweeted in Hindi.
India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 156.76 crore in a span of an year.
India commenced its nationwide COVID vaccination drive on January 16, 2021. Starting initially by inoculating vaccines to healthcare workers, it was then expanded to frontline workers, followed by people above 60 years of age and those above 45 years with comorbidities. Later it was also expanded to all above 45 years of age and then those above 18 years of age.
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.
As per Union Health Ministry, 1,56,76,15,454 vaccine doses have been administered to eligible beneficiaries, as per provisional reports till 7 am on Sunday. In the last 24 hours, more than 66 lakh vaccine doses were administered. (Image source: Instagram)

Mumbai reports 11,317 new COVID-19 cases

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): Mumbai reported 11,317 new cases of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours.
According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) bulletin, the total number of cases of the disease in Mumbai has gone up to 9,81,306. The bulletin said nine people lost their lives due to the virus during the last 24 hours and the death toll has gone up to 16,435. Of the 11,317 new cases, 9,506 cases are asymptomatic. The city has 84,352 active cases.
The bulletin said that 22,073 people recovered from the infection in the last 24 hours taking the total number of recoveries to 8,77,884.
It said 800 people were hospitalised on Friday taking the total hospitalisations to 6,432. There are a total of 38,088 beds in Mumbai. The current bed occupancy rate is 16.80 per cent.
A total of 54,924 samples were tested during the last 24 hours. (Image source: Instagram)

EC reschedules West Bengal municipal elections to February 12 amid rising COVID-19 cases

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): The West Bengal State Election Commission postponed the West Bengal municipality election, which were scheduled for January 22, to February 12.
The decision came after The Calcutta High Court on January 13 asked the State Election commission (SEC) to take the decision in 48 hrs whether it could be postponed by 4 to 6 weeks in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases. According to the new notification from SEC, civic polls for Darjeeling district’s Siliguri Municipal Corporation, Hooghly district’s Chandernagore Municipal Corporation, North 24 Pargana district’s Bidhannagar Municipal Corporation and Paschim (West) Bardhaman’s Asansol Municipal Corporation would be conducted on February 12 from 7 am to 5 pm. (Image source: Instagram)

No COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Maharashtra, clarifies Union Health Ministry

New Delhi [India] (ANI): The Union Health Ministry on Friday issued a clarification that there is no COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Maharashtra as it has over 24 lakh unutilized doses of Covaxin available with it and an additional 6.35 lakh doses have been received today.
According to the press release issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MHFW), there have been some media reports alleging vaccine shortage in Maharashtra stating that due to lack of vaccines the state government is unable to increase the pace of vaccination in the state. Such reports are ill-informed and incorrect. “It is clarified that, as per the reports available today, Maharashtra has over 24 lakh unutilized doses of Covaxin available with it and an additional 6.35 lakh doses have been received on Friday,” Ministry said.
As per their weekly consumption data available on Co-WIN, the average consumption by Maharashtra for Covaxin to cover the eligible beneficiaries for 15-17 years and for precaution dose is almost 2.94 lakh doses per day, the release read.
Therefore, the state has adequate vaccine doses for about 10 days to cover the eligible beneficiaries with Covaxin, it added.
As per the ministry, furthermore, for Covishield, the state has 1.24 crore unutilized and balance doses available as of date. With an average consumption of 3.57 lakhs per day, this will sustain for more than 30 days for the beneficiaries to be vaccinated using the vaccine.
Hence, the media reports are not factually correct and do not reflect the correct picture of the available stock of balance and unutilized COVID vaccine doses with Maharashtra, the statement said. (Image source: Instagram)

Doctors, health workers test positive as COVID-19 infections surge in Telangana

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India] (ANI): Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases in Telangana, several doctors and health workers have also been infected with the coronavirus.
Speaking to ANI, Dr Sambit, HOD of Critical Care at Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences (KIMS) said, “We are getting 50 cases every day, out of which 25-40 are in-patients. A few doctors have also been afflicted, but most are either asymptomatic or mildly afflicted.” He said as a precaution, doctors with infections have been advised to be in isolation and not report to duty until they are well.

“We have also advised doctors to be careful during their surgeries and to space them out. Our rooter system ensures that not all doctors have surgeries every day, which means that the system is not overloaded and not everyone is infected at the same time. The number given by epidemiologists does not match what we are seeing,” he said.
He further said that the number of admissions in hospitals actually is quite low in terms of RT PCR positives, which indicates people are asymptomatic or mild. However, taking it lightly is not a wise thing to do, especially for those with co-morbidities and the elderly, he added.
“There have been severe cases where patients who have only taken one dose have needed oxygen therapy. It is expected that the number of cases will rise over the next several days, and we can comment on the hospital load at that time. I would advise people not to self-medicate if they have a fever, and they should wear masks and take boosters,” added Dr Sambit.
According to Dr Vijay Bhaskar, CEO of Ravi Helios Hospital, fortunately, 90 per cent of Indians are immunized with a single dose, and there is herd immunity that will prevent severe conditions.

“Patients are only admitted to hospitals in India in about 4-5 per cent of the cases. About 70 per cent of health workers are now affected by COVID. Most of them are asymptomatic and are recovering faster. In this variant of COVID, isolation is only necessary for five days,” he said.
Dr Bhaskar further said that 26 doctors and employees have tested positive at Ravi Helios Hospital.
“In our staff of 42 doctors and 65 employees, 26 have tested positive, all of them asymptomatic. I recommend the government to open booster doses to journalists and HMC workers and policemen, and I ask everyone to maintain appropriate conduct,” he added. (Image source: Instagram)

US reports over 150,000 hospitalisations in 24 hours, faces lack of medics as COVID-19 cases surge

Washington [US] (ANI): The number of people hospitalized in the US with Covid-19 has reached a record high — 151,261 as of Wednesday. And as the infection due to Omicron variant spreads, states and health care systems nationwide are handling shortages of available medical workers.
Nineteen states have less than 15% remaining capacity in their ICUs. Four of them have less than 10%: Kentucky, Alabama, Indiana and New Hampshire, according to data Wednesday from the US Department of Health and Human Services, reported CNN News. The other states are– Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas and Vermont, according to HHS.
The Omicron virus is wreaking havoc in the country as the variant is spreading rapidly leading to a shortage of medical workers.
The medical workers have a greater chance to get exposed to the virus and they must isolate themselves if they are tested positive.
Governor of Washington, Jay Inslee announced on Thursday that he will be requiring hospitals to temporarily halt non-urgent procedures in an effort to get staff positioned to assist people who need help immediately, reported CNN News.

People take holy dip at Gangasagar on Makar Sankranti

Gangasagar (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): Amid the COVID-19 surge, a large number of people on Friday took a holy dip on the occasion of Makar Sankranti at Gangasagar in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.
The West Bengal government has set up air ambulance services to provide emergency treatment to patients and transfer them to hospitals from Gangasagar, where devotees have gathered for a holy bath on the occasion of Makar Sankranti. Meanwhile, a two-member committee has been constituted to monitor adherence to COVID-19 protocols during the Gangasagar Mela which began on January 8 this year.
Only those having negative RT-PCR report not earlier than 72 hours have been permitted to enter the mela.
Held during the winters, this Mela is an annual gathering of pilgrims that see a number of rituals, lit lamps and chanting in and around Sagardwip.
Makar Sankranti or Maghi is a festival in the Hindu calendar, in which devotees make offerings to the deity Surya. The day marks the first day of the sun’s transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days. (Image source: Instagram)

Pakistan reports over 3,000 COVID cases in 24 hours, positivity rate up by 9 times in one month

Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): The number of COVID-19 cases in Pakistan has hit a new record with 3,000 cases reported in the last 24 hours after a gap of over four months, with the country’s positivity rate showing an extraordinary nine-fold increase in just one month.
Earlier, 3,152 cases were reported on September 11, 2021, in Pakistan. A total of 3,019 cases and five deaths were reported, with 651 patients on critical care, across Pakistan over the past 24 hours, according to data released by the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), reported Dawn.
The positivity ratio, which was 0.69 per cent on December 13, 2021, rose to 6.12pc during the last 24 hours. Karachi reported 20.45pc positivity, Lahore 10.7pc, Rawalpindi 7.35pc, Islamabad 6.3pc, Gilgit 5.88pc and Gujrat 5.81pc.
Notably, the first case of Omicron variant of Covid-19 was detected on December 13 in Karachi and since then the number of cases has been skyrocketing in the country. (Image source: Instagram)

Delhi registers 28,867 new COVID-19 cases, highest-ever in a single day

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Delhi reported 28,867 new cases of COVID-19 during the last 24 hours, registering its highest single-day cases since the beginning of the pandemic, as per the Delhi government on Thursday.
Earlier on April 20 last year, 28,395 cases were registered, which was earlier the highest single-day case count in the national capital. As per the bulletin provided by the government, the positivity rate has mounted to 29.21 per cent. A total of 98,832 samples were tested during the last 24 hours.
With this, the total count of COVID-19 cases in Delhi has gone up to 16,46,583.
In the national capital, 22,121 people recovered from the infection during the last 24 hours, taking the total recoveries to 15,27,152.
Thirty-one people lost their lives to the deadly virus during the last 24 hours. The death toll due to the disease in the national capital stands at 25,271.
There are currently 94,160 active COVID-19 cases in Delhi, out of which 62,324 patients are in home isolation. Currently, there are 23,997 active containment zones in the national capital.
As per the bulletin, 2,424 patients are currently admitted to hospital, out of which 55 patients are suspected to be COVID-19 infected while 2,369 are confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Out of the confirmed 2,369 COVID-19 cases, 2,080 are from the national capital while 289 are from outside.
Currently, 768 patients are on Oxygen support, 628 are on ICU. 98 patients are in a critical condition on ventilator support.
The bulletin says that 84.29 per cent of 15,433 beds across dedicated COVID-19 hospitals in Delhi are vacant. Only 2,424 beds are occupied.
In the COVID-19 care centres, 87.92 per cent beds are empty, with only 559 out of 4,626 beds occupied. In COVID-19 health centres, 74.05 per cent beds are empty. Only 41 out of 158 beds in these health centres are occupied.
During the last 24 hours, 1,63,851 total COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered. Out of this, 94,838 are first doses while 45,322 people received their second doses.
A total of 23,691 precaution doses were given to Healthcare workers, frontline workers, senior citizens during the last 24 hours. In Delhi, a total of 65,128 precaution doses have been administered.
A total of 50,048 beneficaries aged 15-17 were given their first doses of COVID-19 vaccination during the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative count of beneficaries to 4,02,345.
A total of 2,80,71,935 vaccination doses have been administered in Delhi, out of which 1,62,13,267 beneficaries have recevied their first dose while 1,17,93,540 beneficaries have been administered their second dose. (Image source: Instagram)

Mansukh Mandaviya chairs meeting with Tamil Nadu health officials, discusses COVID-19 situation

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Wednesday chaired a meeting with the Regional Director of Directorate General of Health Services and other health officials in Chennai, Tamil Nadu and discussed the COVID-19 situation.
“Chaired a meeting with the Regional Director of Directorate General of Health Services, National Centre for Disease Control officers, Deputy Director of DCGI, Regional Head of ICMR and Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Discussed various aspects relating to COVID-19 situation,” the minister tweeted. Mandaviya, who is on a brief visit to the state, earlier in the day, inspected the COVID-19 war room, 108 emergency control centre in Tamil Nadu and praised the local administration for doing “great work” in controlling the spread of the pandemic.
“During my visit to Tamil Nadu, carried out an inspection of control rooms, COVID War Room, 108 control centre, and PSA Oxygen plants established under PM CARES, at DMS Compound Teynampet, Chennai. The local administration is doing great work towards defeating the COVID-19,” he tweeted.
Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday virtually inaugurated 11 medical colleges in Tamil Nadu and the new campus of Central Institute of Classical Tamil in Chennai.
These medical colleges have been inaugurated in districts including Virudhunagar, Namakkal, Nilgiris, Tiruppur, Thiruvallur, Nagapattinam, Dindigul, Kallakurichi, Ariyalur, Ramanathapuram and Krishnagiri. (Image source: Instagram)

Ganga Sagar Mela commences with strict COVID protocols

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): After the Calcutta High Court gave the go-ahead to organise the Ganga Sagar Mela, on Wednesday it commenced with strict COVID-19 protocols. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee inaugurated the Ganga Sagar Mela, which is held annually at Gangasagar in West Bengal.
Speaking to ANI, South 24 Parganas District Magistrate Dr P Ulganathan said that Ganga Sagar Mela has been organised as compared to those organised during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Gangasagar Mela is the biggest fair in the Eastern part of India. Here every year lakhs of devotees and sadhus come. But this time due to COVID-19, all our preparations have become complicated and a lot of extra preparation had to be done. We have made a massive arrangement for COVID management, in all the entry points. We are doing medical screening at every entry point and have made many such arrangements which range from thermal checking to sanitization. We are also doing rapid antigen tests of pilgrims and sadhus coming to the Mela. In all the buses arranged, more than 50 per cent of the capacity people are not being brought,” said Ulganathan.

He further said that the water ambulance and air ambulance is also available on the ground for COVID infected people. Random testing is being done to not know whether people are infected or not, he added.
“We have done deployed doctors, police and volunteers at the mass level. We were able to manage all the people who are coming here,” he said.
He further said that all the activities of the Mela are being monitored from the Mega Control Room. CCTV cameras and drones are being used to keep an eye on each and every activity of the Mela.

“CCTV cameras, drones are installed, an integrated control room has been set up but police, civil defence, civil administration all can see them. Monitoring is also being done from State Secretariat Nabanna. Complete monitoring is being done at senior officer IG, DG and Chief Secretary level. Chief Minister has come here and gone after doing a complete review. And continuous review meeting is also being held at the headquarter. This time we have done very good preparation,” he said.
The District Magistrate said a large number of Police, Navy, Disaster Management Teams, Civil Defense Forces have been deployed to monitor the crowd management, as well as arrangements, have been made to transport people with the facility of GPRS in buses, vessels and barges.

“There is a deployment of police personnel above 15,000. Apart from this, there is civil defence, navy and army is also deployed because the area is so big. Everything has been done for safety and security,” he added.
He said for transportation boats, vessels and all arrangements have been made because to come to this Mela, one will have to cross the ocean.
About three to four lakh people are expected to come and accordingly, all the preparation has been done, he added.
“The order given by the High Court is being 100 per cent followed. continuous checking is being done to see if people are double vaccinated or not. RT-PCR test is being done, no one can come to the island without vaccination and without RT-PCR test and all arrangements have been made accordingly. Mask distribution is also being done so far five lakh masks have been distributed. Masks are mandatory, for this we have kept volunteers and continuous awareness is also being done and announcements are also being made,” he said.

“Right now a lot of people are afraid to go into the water and some people are not able to come, that’s why we have arranged heavy drones for Gangasagar bath, everyone will be bathed in the Ganges by drone. It will start from tomorrow,” he said.
The District Magistrate said this time Ganga Aarti has also been organized in a grand manner.
“A meditation centre has been set up in this area where one can meditate. A museum has been built here in which the complete history of Ganga Sagar will be seen,” he said.
The program will be organized through an e-darshan platform on various social media platforms like YouTube, website, Facebook, Twitter, and being broadcast live on Instagram.

“We are fully prepared for any situation that may arise here at the Mela. We are seeing whether people are following all the COVID protocols or not. Our team is all around the Mela from ground to ocean,” said an official.
Held during the winters, this Mela is an annual gathering of pilgrims that see a number of rituals, lit lamps and chanting in and around Sagardwip. (Image source: Instagram)

Omicron spreading rapidly, stay alert, avoid panic: PM Modi on COVID-19 situation

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that Omicron variant of COVID-19 is spreading rapidly as compared to other variants adding that there is a need to stay alert but also ensure that panic is not created.
“Compared to previous variants Omicron is rapidly spreading…it’s more transmissible…Our health experts are assessing the situation. It’s clear that we have to stay alert, but also ensure to avoid panic,” the Prime Minister said during the virtual meeting with Chief Minsters of the states over COVID-19 situation. To contain the spread of the virus, the Prime Minister said the “pre-emptive, pro-active and collective approach” adopted by the central and state governments is the “mantra of victory” this time as well.
India has reported a surge in COVID-19 cases in the recent past.
India on Thursday reported 2,47,417 fresh COVID-19 cases. The new cases reported on Thursday are about 27 per cent higher as compared to yesterday’s figures. On Wednesday, the country had seen 1,94,720 new COVID-19 cases. (Image source: Instagram)

Karnataka logs 14,473 new COVID-19 cases in last 24 hours

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): Karnataka logged 14,473 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, said the state government on Wednesday.
With this, the active caseload in the state mounted to 73,260. As per the state health bulletin, a total of 1,40,452 samples were tested during the last 24 hours. The positivity rate stood at 10.30 per cent.
With 1,356 recoveries reported during the last 24 hours, the recovery tall in the state reached 29,66,461.
As many as five people succumbed to the infection during the last 24 hours. With this, the death toll in the state mounted to 38,379. (Image source: Instagram)

PM Modi speaks to Bihar CM, singer Lata Mangeshkar who tested COVID-19 positive

New Delhi [India] (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to enquire about his health condition after the latter tested COVID-19 positive.
PM Modi wished him a speedy recovery from the coronavirus infection over the conversation. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday and went under home isolation on the doctor’s advice, the CMO informed.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also enquired about the health of veteran singer Lata Mangeshkar who was hospitalised after testing positive for COVID.
The veteran singer was admitted to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital on Monday. (Image source: Instagram)

Karnataka CM reviews COVID situation

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India] (ANI): In view of the surge in COVID cases, the Karnataka government on Tuesday decided to extend guidelines till the end of the month.
The decision has been taken after Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Tuesday chaired a review meeting on the COVID situation via video conferencing in Bengaluru. Ministers Dr K Sudhakar, BC Nagesh, Araga Dnyanendra and senior officials attended the meeting.
The rise in cases among school children was also discussed in the meeting. A decision was also taken to authorise the Deputy Commissioners of respective districts to take a call on closing schools based on the number of cases, reports from the BEOs and Health officers.
Officials are instructed to arrange children’s ward, ICUs and other treatment facilities for children at Taluk and District hospitals. Education and Health department officials asked to conduct a general health checkup in schools every fortnight.
District collectors and Superintendent of Police are instructed to strictly enforce COVID guidelines at public places. Instructions were issued for monitoring the health of those in home quarantine and timely distribution of health kits for them.
The Chief Minister wanted the officials to strengthen the Triaging to ascertain whether an infected person needs hospitalisation or not immediately on getting the test report.
It was decided to utilise the services of House Surgeons and Final Year Nursing students in the Home Isolation and Triaging process.
The government decided to establish 27 COVID Care Centres in Bengaluru immediately.
The Revenue and Endowment departments were instructed to issue appropriate guidelines to be followed during the coming Sankranti, Vaikunta Ekadashi and other festivals.
The daily COVID testing in Bengaluru is to be raised to 1.30 lakh. The Chief Minister instructed the officials to take stringent action against those holding public conventions. The State government was instructed to take action to decongest the market areas based on the ground realities.
Karnataka reported 11,698 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, out of which 9,221 cases were reported in Bengaluru only.
In Karnataka, the active caseload stands at 60,148 including 49,000 active cases of Bengaluru.
As many as four people have succumbed to coronavirus infection in the state on Monday including two deaths reported in Bengaluru.
Worth mentioning, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai on Monday evening said that he had tested positive for COVID-19 infection. (Image source: Instagram)

West Bengal begins administering COVID-19 vaccine ‘precautionary dose’

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): West Bengal on Monday began administering ‘precautionary dose’ for health workers, frontline workers, senior citizens with comorbidities.
“274 days after the second dose, a person is eligible to take ‘precautionary dose’. We got a good amount of responses on the first day. Though initially, we faced some problems with the CO-WIN registration, now the problem has been sorted” said Dr Anupam Das, In-charge of Vaccination of Peerless hospital in Kolkata. “A vaccinated person can also get COVID-19 positive but the seriousness of the disease will not be much”, added Dr Das.
Meanwhile, West Bengal today recorded 19,286 new cases taking the total active cases in the state to 89,194. Kolkata itself reported the highest with 5,363 new cases. (Image source: Unsplash)

Novavax, Serum Institute file for emergency use authorisation of Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa

Gaithersburg [US] (ANI): Novavax, a biotechnology company dedicated to developing and commercializing next-generation vaccines for serious infectious diseases, and Serum Institute of India (SII), on Monday, announced a regulatory submission to the South African Health Products Regulatory Agency (SAHPRA) for emergency use authorization (EUA) of Novavax’ recombinant nanoparticle protein-based COVID-19 vaccine candidate with Matrix-M adjuvant.
“If authorised, the vaccine (known as NVX-CoV2373) will be manufactured by and commercialized by SII in South Africa under the brand name Covovax,” said Novavax in a statement on Monday. “Novavax is thankful for our long-standing history of partnership in South Africa to advance much-needed vaccines. This is exemplified by the country’s vital role in the Phase 2b clinical trial and booster study of our protein-based COVID-19 vaccine,” said Stanley C Erck, President and Chief Executive Officer, Novavax.
“Novavax and Serum Institute remains focused on delivering the COVID-19 vaccine – built on well-understood technology – where it is needed most. We look forward to SAHPRA’s review and, if authorized, delivering the vaccine to help South Africa control the pandemic,” Erck added.
In total, Novavax’s vaccine has received authorizations of the vaccine in over 170 countries, including conditional marketing authorisation for its vaccine in the European Union and emergency use listing (EUL) from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Novavax/SII vaccine (Covovax) recently received EUA in India, Indonesia and the Philippines, as well as WHO EUL and is also currently under review by multiple regulatory agencies worldwide. This includes the submission of its complete chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC) data package to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at the end of 2021.
The company expects to submit a request for EUA for the vaccine in the US after one month in accordance with guidance from the FDA regarding the submission of all EUA vaccines. (Image source: Instagram)

China reports first community spread of Omicron variant

Tianjin [China] (ANI): China has reported its first community spread Omicron cases, with two people confirmed with the coronavirus variant in Tianjin city, a Singapore-based newspaper The Strait Times stated citing local media reports.
Port city Tianjin has begun mass-testing its 14 million residents following its first community-spread Omicron cases on January 9. The confirmed Omicron cases belong to a cluster of 20 children and adults at an after-school care centre in Tianjin, which borders Beijing, the capital city, The Strait Times reported.
They include 15 students aged between eight and 13, a staff member at the centre and four parents.
The Omicron patients are a 10-year-old student and the staff member, who is a 29-year-old woman. Neither have travelled out of the city in the past 14 days, the reports added, as per The Strait Times.
The mass testing, which started on Sunday, is expected to end by Monday.
Beijing has also been on high alert by making it mandatory for anyone entering the city to undergo COVID-19 testing and allowing only fully vaccinated individuals in for certain events as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics on February 4.
Xi’an, the provincial capital of Shaanxi in northern China, has reported more than 1,900 cases in its latest flare-up. The city of 13 million people have also been under a strict lockdown for weeks, as per the publication.
On Sunday, mainland China reported 92 new COVID-19 cases, with 56 of them from Henan, 30 from Shaanxi, three in Tianjin, two in Zhejiang in south-eastern China and one in Guangdong province in the south, The Strait Times reported. (Image source: Instagram)

BJP chief JP Nadda tests positive for COVID-19

New Delhi [India] (ANI): President of the Bharatiya Janata Party Jagat Prakash Nadda on Monday said he had tested positive for the COVID-19 infection.
The BJP chief said he was keeping fine and was self-isolating. “I got my COVID-19 test done after witnessing initial symptoms. My report has come positive. I am feeling fine now. On the advice of doctors, I have isolated myself. All those who have come in contact with me in the last few days are requested to get themselves tested,” tweeed Nadda in Hindi.
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S Bommai, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Union Minister of State for Defence Ministry Ajay Bhatt also tested positive for COVID-19 today.
India is currently witnessing a surge in COVID-19 cases and reported 1,79,723 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 13.29 per cent, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Monday.
A total of 4,033 cases of the Omicron variant of Coronavirus have been reported so far. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases (1,216), followed by Rajasthan (529) and Delhi (513).
About 1,552 patients infected with Omicron have recovered.
The Ministry further informed that the active caseload in the country currently stands at 7,23,619 which accounts for 2.03 per cent of the country’s total number of cases. The weekly positivity rate currently is at 7.29 per cent, while the daily positivity rate stands at 13.29 per cent.
Total cases of COVID-19 in the country have risen to 35,528,004, the health ministry said today morning. As many as 46,569 patients recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours. The cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients now stands at 3,45,00,172. The recovery rate is at 96.62 per cent.
The country also reported 146 new deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,83,936. India conducted 13,52,717 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours. The country has conducted 69,15,75,352 tests so far, as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data. (Image source: Instagram)

Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony downsized amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Beijing [China] (ANI): China has downsized the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese Film Director Zhang Yimou has announced that the opening ceremony will be much smaller than that of the 2008 Summer Games held in the capital, reported NHK World. Zhang has been appointed chief director of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, reprising his role in the 2008 Olympics.
He said the opening ceremony on February 4 at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, will feature about 3,000 performers and last less than 100 minutes, reported NHK World.
The number of performers is one-fifth that of the 2008 ceremony and the length is less than half.
With less than one month to go before the Olympics, community infections of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been confirmed in the city of Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, and the inland province of Henan, reported NHK World.
Whereas the 2008 Summer Olympics was widely regarded as China’s “coming out party” on the world stage (replete with the official theme song, “Beijing Welcomes You”), the 2022 Winter Games will be held within a tightly sealed Covid-safe “bubble” isolating participants and attendees from the wider Chinese population. (Image source: Unsplash)

Maharashtra reports 44,388 new COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): As many as 44,388 new COVID-19 cases were reported in Maharashtra during the last 24 hours, as per the state health department on Sunday.
The active cases currently stand at 2,02,259 in the state. During the last 24 hours, 15,351 people recovered from the infection, taking the total recoveries in the state to 65,72,432. The recovery rate in the state is 94.98 per cent.
As many as 12 people succumbed to the deadly virus in the state during the last 24 hours. The case fatality rate stands at 2.04 per cent.
According to the media bulletin, out of 7,05,45,105 laboratory samples, 69,20,044 have been tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
A total of 10,76,996 people are in-home quarantine and 2,614 people are in institutional
quarantine, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra reported 207 new cases of Omicron variant of the COVID-19 on Sunday. With this, the tally of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the state has gone up to 1,216.
Out of 1,216 Omcron cases, 454 cases have been discharged following a negative RT PCR test.
As per the bulletin, of 207 Omicron cases, 155 have been reported by B J Medical College and 52 have been reported by the National Institute of Virology. Following these, Sangli reported (57), Mumbai (40), Pune MC (22), Nagpur (21), Pimpri-Chinchwad MC (15), Thane MC (12) and Kolhapur (8).
Meanwhile, Mumbai logged 19,474 fresh COVID-19 cases and during the last 24 hours, said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Sunday. With this, the total count of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai has gone up to 9,14,572.
Seven people lost their lives to the deadly virus during the last 24 hours, taking the death toll due to the COVID-19 in Mumbai to 16,406.
A total of 8,063 people recovered from the infection during the last 24 hours, taking the total recoveries to 7,78,119. The recovery rate in Mumbai stands at 85 per cent. (Image source: Unsplash)

West Bengal reports 24,287 new COVID cases, 18 deaths

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] (ANI): West Bengal on Sunday logged 24,287 new COVID cases taking the total active cases in the state to 78,111, stated the Health Bulletin.
The positivity rate in the state is 33.89 per cent. Eighteen people died in West Bengal of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours taking the total death count to 19,901. Kolkata reported the most number of new cases with 31,602 followed by North 24-Parganas with 14,224 and Howrah with 6,087 cases.
However, the state has seen 8,213 recoveries in the last 24 hours. There are 75,046 people under home isolation, as per the state data whereas 2,874 COVID-19 patients are in hospital. (Image source: Instagram)

Nepal to close educational institutions till Jan 29 amid rise in COVID cases

Kathmandu [Nepal] (ANI): Nepal’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has decided to close all the educational institutions starting from Tuesday till January 29 after the country witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.
In a statement, the ministry said that the decision has been made in line with the recommendation made by COVID-19 Crisis Management Coordination Center (CCMCC). “Educational institutes will remain closed as per the recommendation of the CCMCC. The ministry will not take further decisions. We will issue a notice, accordingly,” the ministry said.
On Sunday, a meeting of the CCMCC recommended that the government close schools until January 29 keeping in mind the increasing cases of COVID-19.
The Nepalese government took the decision in view of the increasing number of coronavirus cases.
Nepal saw 1,167 new cases on Sunday. (Image source: Instagram)

Maharashtra govt revises COVID norms; beauty salons, gyms to function at 50 pc capacity from Jan 10

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India] (ANI): The Maharashtra government on Sunday revised its COVID-19 restrictions allowing beauty salons and gyms to function at 50 per cent capacity with the services being open to only fully vaccinated people.
The state government made a partial modification to its last order issued on January 8, which is scheduled to come into force from Monday. In its last order, the Maharashtra government had said that beauty salons and gyms in the state will remain completely shut. However, in its latest order, the government said: “Beauty salons shall be grouped with hair cutting salons and shall be allowed to remain open with 50 per cent capacity subject to restrictions mentioned in the table for hair cutting salons.”
In the last order, the government had allowed hair cutting salons to operate at 50 per cent capacity adding that these salons will remain closed from 10 pm to 7 am every day.
The new order also states that in beauty salons, only those activities that do not require the removal of masks by anyone shall be allowed. “Only fully vaccinated persons shall be allowed to use these services. All the staff engaged in operation shall be fully vaccinated,” it read.
“Gyms are allowed to remain open with 50 per cent capacity, subject to the use of masks while performing any activity. Only fully vaccinated persons shall be allowed to use these services. All the staff engaged in operation shall be fully vaccinated,” the government has said.
In view of the rising COVID-19 cases in the state, the Maharashtra government has imposed a night curfew between 11 pm to 5 am starting Monday among other restrictions to curb the transmission of the virus.
Swimming pools, spas, zoos, museums, and entertainment parks will remain closed until further orders. Schools, colleges and coaching institutes will remain closed till February 15, with few exceptions in the state.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra on Saturday reported 41,434 new COVID-19 cases, 9,671 recoveries, and 13 deaths. The active cases in the state stood at 1,73,238. Notably, Maharashtra has the highest number of active cases in India.
Maharashtra has reported 1,009 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 so far, as per the state health bulletin on Saturday. (Image source: Instagram)

Africa’s COVID-19 cases surpass 10 million

Addis Ababa [Ethiopia](ANI/Xinhua): The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa has reached 10,028,508 as of Saturday evening, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.
The specialized healthcare agency of the African Union said the death toll across the continent stands at 231,157 and some 8,916,469 patients have recovered from the disease so far. South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Ethiopia and Libya are among the countries with the most cases on the continent, said the Africa CDC.
South Africa has recorded the most COVID-19 cases in Africa with 3,513,813 cases. It is followed by Morocco and Tunisia, with 990,057 and 738,442 cases respectively.
In terms of the caseload, southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by the northern and eastern parts of the continent, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.
According to the Africa CDC, African countries have acquired 547 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far. About 9.6 percent of Africa’s population have been fully vaccinated. (Image source: Free Range)

New coronavirus variant ‘Deltacron’ emerges in Cyprus

Nicosia [Cyprus]: A new coronavirus variant Deltacron has emerged in Cyprus which has a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, as well as some of the mutations from Omicron, and experts say that it is not something to be worried about at the moment, a media report said.
In total, 10 of the mutations from Omicron were found in the 25 samples taken in Cyprus. 11 of the samples came from people who were hospitalized due to the virus, while 14 came from the general population, reported Jerusalem Post citing Cyprus Mail. Dr. Leondios Kostrikis, the head of the laboratory of biotechnology and molecular virology at the University of Cyprus, said that the frequency of the mutation among hospitalized patients was higher and could point to a correlation between the new variant and hospitalizations.
Kostrikis also emphasized that the variant has a similar genetic background to the Delta variant, as well as some of the mutations from Omicron.
The new variant was not something to worry about at the moment, said Cyprus’s Health Minister Michalis Hadjipandelas on Saturday.
The minister also expressed pride in discovering the new variant.
Hadjipandelas said the groundbreaking research and findings of Dr. Kostrikis’ team make us proud of our scientists. The minister also underlined that this research puts Cyprus on the international map when it comes to health matters, according to Jerusalem Post.
So far, the scientific name of the new variant has not been announced. (ANI)

Karnataka reports 8449 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths in the last 24 hours

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka reported 8449 new COVID-19 cases and four deaths in the last 24 hours, the state health department informed on Friday.
With the addition of new cases, the cumulative case tally in the state mounted to 30,31,052, of which 30,113 are active cases. The positivity rate stands at 4.15 per cent. As per the health bulletin, four deaths were reported in the state taking the total death toll to 38,362.
A total of 505 people have been recovered from the virus in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of recoveries to 29,62,548.
Meanwhile, India reported 1,17,100 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 7.74 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday.
With this, the country’s COVID-19 case tally has gone up to 3,52,26,386.

North China’s Tianjin starts citywide nucleic acid testing amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Tianjin [China]: Authorities at North China’s Tianjin, a municipality that neighbours Beijing, have started a citywide nucleic acid testing after 20 people were tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, reported Xinhua.
The positive coronavirus cases were reported from 6 pm Friday to 9 pm Saturday in Jinnan District, said Xinhua. With the gene sequencing, the first two locally-confirmed cases were found to be infected with the Omicron variant, said the municipal centre for disease control and prevention.
The citywide nucleic acid testing began at 7 am on Sunday and is expected to be completed in 24 hours in four districts. In the 12 other districts the tests will begin from 7 am Monday, and residents will not be given a green health code until receiving the negative testing result, according to the centre.
It came as Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, is facing strict lockdown from December 23 due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
Officials on Saturday said that Xi’an reported 46 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Friday. The city has registered 1,959 local cases since December 9, 2021, amid the latest resurgence.

Lionel Messi continues COVID recovery, misses PSG trip to Lyon

Paris [France]: Lionel Messi will miss Paris Saint-Germain FC’s Ligue 1 clash against Olympique Lyonnais as the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner will continue his recovery from COVID-19.
The Parisian club confirmed on Saturday that Messi will miss the club’s trip to Parc Olympique Lyonnais. In a statement, PSG said: “Lionel Messi will continue his individual post-Covid recovery programme in the coming days.” Messi along with three other Paris Saint-Germain FC players had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 2. The three other players who tested positive for COVID-19 were Juan Bernat, Sergio Rico, and Nathan Bitumazala.
PSG also confirmed that Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Danilo Pereira, Layvin Kurzawa and Gianluigi Donnarumma will continue their isolation due to COVID-19.
The club added that Neymar Jr is continuing his treatment with the Paris Saint-Germain medical and performance staff. The Brazilian forward is still scheduled to return to training in three weeks.

COVID: Decision on weekend curfew likely by tonight, says Mumbai Mayor

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Amid the massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar on Friday informed that a decision regarding weekend curfew might be taken by tonight after a review meeting.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, National Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar and state Health Minister Rajesh Tope will likely make a decision regarding weekend curfew by midnight. Addressing a press conference here, Pednekar said, “No decision yet on weekend curfew. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chair a review meeting via video conferencing with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray this evening on the COVID-19 situation.”
Apprising that the Chief Minister does not think that a lockdown should be imposed, Pednekar further said, “But, people are still not serious and are not wearing masks. People must follow all COVID19 SOPs.”
Since a lot of tourists visit Mumbai during the weekend, and the maximum surge in COVID cases is usually registered during that time, Pednekar said that a decision on weekend curfew is likely.
“Today, there could be a decision on seating capacity to be allowed for restaurants, hotels etc,” she added.
Meanwhile, Twenty staff members of Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil tested positive for COVID-19 today.
Mumbai reported 20,181 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, taking the positivity rate to 29.90 per cent. With these, Mumbai’s tally of COVID-19 cases jumped to 8,53,809, while the tally of active cases stood at 79,260 on Thursday.
The overall growth rate of COVID-19 cases in Mumbai is 0.99 per cent and the doubling rate of patients is 70 days.
As per BMC, a total of 67,000 test samples were collected of which 20,181 were tested positive yesterday.1,170 patients were hospitalised on Thursday. 106 patients are on Oxygen out of total hospitalised patients.
Out of 35,594 available beds, only 5,998 are occupied by the patients so far. Only 16.8 per cent of beds are occupied out of the total available beds.

Tamil Nadu logs 8,981 new COVID-19 cases, 8 deaths in last 24 hrs

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: Tamil Nadu reported 8,981 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, informed the State health department on Friday.
With this, the total count of COVID-19 cases in the state has gone up to 27,76,413 including 30,817 active cases. A total of eight people have succumbed to coronavirus infection in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities in the state to 36,833.
As many as 984 persons recovered from the infection in the last 24 hours. With this, the cumulative recoveries have risen to 27,08,763 in the state.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu has reported 121 cases of Omicron variant of COVID-19 so far including 117 recoveries.

Calcutta High Court gives nod to hold Gangasagar Mela

Kolkata (West Bengal) [Kolkata]: The Calcutta High Court has given go-ahead to Gangasagar Mela on Friday with certain conditions after the State Government decided to go ahead with the Ganga Sagar Mela after taking necessary measures to contain COVID-19.
The Court order stated that a three-member Committee, comprising the leader of Opposition in the State, Chairman of West Bengal Human Rights Commission, representative of the State, is constituted to ensure compliance of measures suggested by the State on 6 January to contain COVID-19 in the Sagar island. The State will also take a decision to issue a notification in terms of Section 3 of the Ganga Sagar Mela Act, 1976 declaring the Sagar Island as a ‘notified area’ if necessary within a period of 24 hours.
If any shortcoming in compliance is noticed, then the Committee will make a recommendation to the State without any delay to ban entry on the island, on which the competent authority of the State will take immediate action. The Secretary of the West Bengal Human Rights Commission will coordinate between the Members of the Committee, stated the Calcutta HC.
The petitioner sought various directions to restrict and regulate the gathering of pilgrims, sadhus and tourists in Gangasagar Island during the Makar Sankranti period in view of the rising COVID-19 cases. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, thousands of pilgrims gather to take a holy dip at the confluence of river Ganges and Bay of Bengal and offer prayer in the Kapil Muni Temple.
The court on Thursday observed that life is more important than religious practices. Apart from that, there is a possibility of the spread of the virus on account of oral droplets and nasal droplets in the river water and their percolation and transmission through the water when the infected pilgrims will take the holy dip.
The court instructed the state to ensure that all persons and pilgrims, including sadhus, sanyasis and citizens coming from other states to the Ganga Sagar Mela ground, mandatorily use face masks, maintain physical distancing and use sanitisers. The court also asked the state to make sure that all persons connected with the control and management of the Ganga Sagar Mela namely government officials, Police Personnel, medical personnel, volunteers use face masks, maintain physical distancing and use sanitisers. Apart from that Rapid Antigen Testing Centres, 5 RTPCR Testing Facilities and thermal checking facilities are put to place at all entry points including the railway stations Howrah and Sealdah.
The state informed the court that about 30,000 people have already visited the Mela ground and nearly 50,000 people including Sadhus have arrived at different locations. Due to the COVID-19 situation, the inflow of devotees has come down and it is expected that around 4 to 5 lakh pilgrims will arrive between 6 and 15 January.
However, the Doctors Forum doubts that none of the COVID-19 measures that the court has instructed would be carried out by the state government and the state’s affidavit on Gangasagar COVID-19 precautions is a mere eyewash to continue the Mela. Till now two doctors and a few healthcare workers have been COVID-19 affected. The doctors have also pointed out that the medical infrastructural facilities made available in the Ganga Sagar premises are not adequate to take care of the lakhs of pilgrims who are expected to visit the Mela.

Surge in demand for self-testing kits as COVID-19 cases rise in Delhi

New Delhi [India]: The rapidly increasing cases of COVID-19 in the national capital have led to an increase in the demand for self-testing kits.
Just like oxymeters were in great demand during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the third wave is seeing a sharp increase in demand for self-testing kits. Speaking about the increase in demand for COVID-19 self-testing, Delhi Retail Distribution Chemist Alliance (DRDCA) President Sandeep Nangia told ANI, “Recent trend is of COVID self-testing kit, the demand for which is high in the market. Most people are conscious about their health and people are aware as it is the third time. In Delhi, 5,000-10,000 kits are getting sold daily and it is in high demand.”
Nangia also mentioned that the sale of the self-testing kit is high as per market study. Among the buyers are those people who, for some reason, are not able to get themselves tested.
Speaking about the sale of Molnupiravir drugs, Nangia said it is only sold strictly on the basis of doctor’s prescription.
Kanav Nangia, partner at Sunny co pharma, said there is high demand for COVID self-testing kit and stock is not at par with the demand which results in the stock getting exhausted within a day.
Kanav also stressed that it could be a drawback for the government since they are not getting the data as people are taking the test at home and not revealing that they are positive or not.
The self-test kits, available over the counter in chemist shops, contain a sterile swab, disposable bag, a prefilled extraction tube and a test card.
The self-testing kits available in the market are rapid antigen kits that give out the result in less than 30 minutes.
The suspected patients are required to insert the swab stick in both their nostrils, then dip the swab into the extraction tube and put a few drops of the liquid from the tube onto the test card. The test provides a negative or a positive result with the help of the control lines on the test card.
As many as seven self-testing kits have been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research including Coviself by Mylab, CoviFind by Meril Diagnostics, PanBio by Abbott among others. The cost of these kits ranges from Rs 250 to Rs 350.
Delhi reported 20,181 fresh cases in 24 hours in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate to 19.6 per cent.

New COVID-19 cases in Philippines hit record high, death toll crosses 52,000

Manila [Philippines]: The Philippines reported a record high 26,458 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, pushing the total number of the confirmed cases in the Southeast Asian country to 29,36,875.
The country’s Department of Health (DOH) said that the number of active cases or patients still battling the disease soared to 1,02,017 as the positivity rate soared to 43.7 percent. Saturday’s case count surpassed the 26,303 cases tallied on September 11, 2021, while the country was battling the third wave of infections.
Experts said suspected cases of Omicron are fueling surges in communities and further straining the hospitals’ capacity to cope with the continuing pandemic.
The DOH said that 265 more people died from COVID-19 complications, bringing the country’s death toll to 52,135. The reported deaths include those who died in the previous months.
“With the enormous number of people being positive with the just short duration of time and most of them are manifesting upper respiratory track symptoms, then I would say there is already community transmission of Omicron variant,” infectious diseases specialist Rontgene Solante told a televised press conference on Saturday.
Indeed, Solante said the government hospitals “are seeing increasing numbers” of COVID-19 patients daily, including the severe and critical cases.
Jonas del Rosario, the spokesperson for the Philippine General Hospital, echoed Solante’s assessment, saying the government-owned hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) has reached full capacity.
“Our ICU right now is full. The ICU ends for COVID-19 patients are 100 percent occupied,” he told a televised press conference, adding the hospital is converting its non-COVID wards to meet the rising demand for COVID-19 beds.
Experts and health authorities warned that cases will continue rising in the coming days. “It will be very scary for the next few weeks,” molecular biologist Nicanor Austriaco of the OCTA Research Group said.
Authorities stressed the need to stay at home if only experiencing mild symptoms and reserve the hospitals for critically-ill COVID-19 patients.
“This is really the important part; the key critical protection that we must do at this time is we must protect our hospitals and our health care workers,” Austriaco added.

Covid-19 : 150 crore doses milestone achieved in India

             

New Delhi [India], (ANI): With the administration of more than 90 lakh vaccine doses in the last 24 hours, India’s COVID-19 vaccination coverage has exceeded 150.61 crores till 7 am on Saturday.

According to the Union Ministry of health release, India executed 90,59,360 doses in the past 24 hours.
This has been achieved through 1,60,89,073 sessions. The break-ups of the cumulative figure as per the provisional report till 7 am today include:

40,895 patients have recovered in the last 24 hours and the cumulative tally of recovered patients (since the beginning of the pandemic) now stands at 3,44,12,740.

Consequently, India’s recovery rate stands at 97.30 per cent.

1,41,986 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours.

India’s Active Caseload presently stands at 4,72,169. Active cases constitute 1.34 per cent of the country’s total positive cases.

The testing capacity across the country continues to be expanded. The last 24 hours saw a total of 15,29,948 tests being conducted. India has so far conducted over 68.84 crore cumulative tests.

While testing capacity has been enhanced across the country, weekly positivity rate in the country currently stands at 5.66 per cent and the daily positivity rate is also reported to be 9.28 per cent.

The more we trust, quicker we recover from covid

              

Exeter [UK], (ANI): According to a new study, countries, where people have more trust in each other, have been more successful in bringing down waves of coronavirus cases and deaths.

The research has been published in the ‘Scientific Reports Journal’.
Researchers found there is a “threshold effect” in nations where at least 40 per cent of people agree “most people can be trusted”. This supported an effective reduction of cases and deaths during 2020.

Previous studies showed levels of trust in the UK are at the critical 40 per cent compared to more than 60 per cent in Scandinavian countries. China also has high levels of trust within society.

Analysing coronavirus data during 2020 the researchers found more trusting societies tended to achieve a faster decline in infections and deaths from peak levels.

This is likely because behaviours vital to stopping the spread of COVID-19, such as mask-wearing and social distancing depend on mutual trust to be effective.

The study was conducted by Professor Tim Lenton and Dr Chris Boulton from the University of Exeter, and Professor Marten Scheffer from Wageningen University.

Professor Lenton said, “Our results add to evidence that trust within society benefits resilience to epidemics. Building trust within communities should be a long-term project for all nations because this will help them cope with future pandemics and other challenges such as extreme events caused by climate change.”

The study showed the effect of stringent government interventions on coronavirus spread is not straightforward. Most governments applied similarly stringent restrictions but had hugely varying success in bringing down case numbers and deaths. This is partly because more stringent governments tended to be associated with less trusting societies.

The researchers measured more than 150 countries’ resilience to COVID-19 as the nationwide decay rate of daily cases or deaths from peak levels, using information from the Our World in Data COVID-19 dataset up to 1 December 2020 – before vaccines were available.

Resilience to COVID-19 varied by a factor of 40 between countries for cases/capita and by a factor of 25 for deaths/capita.

All countries where more than 40 per cent of respondents agreed “most people can be trusted” achieved a near-complete reduction of new cases and deaths. So did some less-trusting societies – indicating that trust in each other is only one of several factors at play.

Looking across countries, the researchers found no significant correlation between trust in government and success at bringing down cases and deaths. Wealth and associated healthcare helped, but it was less important than trust in each other.

India reports 1,41,986 new COVID-19 cases

             

New Delhi [India], (ANI): India reported 1,41,986 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 9.28 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Saturday.

With this, the country’s COVID-19 case tally has gone up to 3,53,68,372.
According to Health Ministry, the country has so far reported 3,071 cases of Omicron of which 1,203 have been recovered.

Maharashtra accounts for the highest number of Omicron cases (876), followed by Delhi (513) and Karnataka (333).

The Ministry informed that India’s active caseload presently is at 4,72,169. It accounts for 1.34 per cent of the country’s total cases.

The weekly positivity rate is at 5.66 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 9.28 per cent.

With the recovery of 40,895 patients in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients, since the beginning of the pandemic, now stands at 3,44,12,740. The current recovery rate is at 97.30 per cent.

The country also reported 285 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,83,463.

India conducted 15,29,948 COVID-19 tests in the last 24 hours, and so far the country has conducted 68,84,70,959 tests as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data.

India has administered a total of 150.06 crore vaccine doses so far under Nationwide Vaccination Drive.

The COVID vaccination drive began on January 16, 2021. Cumulatively, 1,50,61,92,903 people have been vaccinated so far in the country of which 90,59,360 were administered vaccines in the last 24 hours.

Goa plans??? first read this!

                

Goa (Panaji) [India], (ANI): Amid the rise in COVID-19 cases in Goa, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that public gatherings in the poll-bound coastal state has been limited to 100 people in outdoor venues and 50 per cent of the sitting capacity or maximum 100 in cases of indoor venues.

“Maximum 100 people will be allowed at the venue at any one point in time. However, people coming in and going out of the venue will not be counted to calculate the capacity limit,” said Sawant.
The restrictions have been imposed to prevent large gatherings in marketplaces, public meetings, political meetings, beaches, etc.

“The restrictions will continue till January 26 and will be reviewed depending on the pandemic situation in the state,” added Sawant.

Meanwhile, Goa government has decided not to impose night curfew in the state for now.

A total of 1432 new COVID-19 cases has been reported in Goa in the last 24 hours, as per a health bulletin by the state government issued on Friday.

A total of 6,295 samples were tested during the last 24 hours.

As many as 112 people recovered from the infection, taking the total number of recoveries in the state to 1,76,737.

A total of 3,530 deaths have been reported in the state so far, with two deaths being reported during the last 24 hours. There are currently 5931 active COVID-19 cases in the state.

Gujarat HC to function in virtual mode for now

                

Ahmedabad (Gujarat) [India], (ANI): In view of rising cases of COVID-19, Gujarat High Court on Friday said that it will function in virtual mode till further orders.

According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, there are 14,346 active COVID cases in the state presently.
Meanwhile, the Gujarat government on Friday announced a night curfew between 10 pm and 6 am in Ahmedabad, Surat, Vadodara, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Junagadh, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Anand, and Nadiad.

As per the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), all political/social programs, weddings will have a maximum gathering of 400 people in open and that of 50 per cent of space capacity in closed venues. Only 100 persons have been allowed in funerals.

“Shops, spas, shopping complexes, hotels and restaurants, with 75 per cent capacity, to function till 10 pm. 75 per cent capacity approved in government/private AC non-buses, 50 per cent capacity approved in cinema halls, gyms, swimming pools, libraries, etc. Educational institutions closed till Jan 31,” Gujarat CMO informed.

Omicron may be less severe, but not ‘mild’: WHO

Geneva [Switzerland]: The Omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to be a less severe disease than the Delta strain, but it does not mean it should be categorized as “mild”, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Thursday.
During a press briefing, the head of global health body said that at present, 109 countries would miss out on fully vaccinating 70 per cent of their populations by the start of July 2022. “Last week, the highest number of COVID-19 cases were reported so far in the pandemic…while Omicron does appear to be less severe compared to Delta, especially in those vaccinated, it does not mean it should be categorized as “mild”, Tedros Adhanom said.
He added that the Omicron variant is hospitalizing people and it is killing people, just like previous ones.
“The tsunami of cases is so huge and quick, that it is overwhelming health systems around the world. Hospitals are becoming overcrowded and understaffed, which further results in preventable deaths from not only COVID-19 but other diseases and injuries where patients cannot receive timely care,” the WHO chief also said.
Raising concern over the vaccine inequity and health inequity, WHO director-general Tedros said that these were the “biggest failures of last year.”
“While some countries have had enough personal protective equipment, tests and vaccines to stockpile throughout this pandemic, many countries do not have enough to meet basic baseline needs or modest targets, which no rich country would have been satisfied with. Vaccine inequity is a killer of people and jobs and it undermines a global economic recovery,” Tedros said.
Meanwhile, a new coronavirus variant B.1.640.2 also known as IHU variant has been detected in a traveller returning from Cameroon, according to the hospital IHU Mediterrannee in Marseille, France.
The traveller has reportedly infected 12 people in Southern France.

Delhi likely to report 17,000 COVID-19 cases on Friday, peak expected soon: Satyendar Jain

New Delhi [India]: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday informed that the Union Territory is expected to add 17,000 cases to its COVID-19 tally with a daily positivity rate of 17 per cent to 18 per cent.
He informed that on Thursday, Delhi reported 15,000 COVID-9 cases. The positive rate reported on Thursday was 15.34 per cent. The total number of active cases reported on Thursday in Delhi were 31, 498. “There were 15,000 cases yesterday. According to me, there is a possibility of 17,000 new cases coming today. Possibility rate likely to be 1-2 per cent higher than yesterday. Yesterday the positivity rate was around 15 per cent, today it is likely to be 17-18 per cent,” Jain said addressing a press conference here.
He further stated, “We have brought a major change in home isolation. Now we have reduced home isolation from 10 days to 7 days. If a person do not get any symptoms for three days after his or her seven day home isolation gets over, then he or she can go to work. There is no need to get youself tested for COVID-19 after home isolation provided you do not get any symptoms for three days after observing 7 days home isolation”.
“Peak of fifth wave in Delhi is expected soon,” he added.
“There are more than 30,000 active cases in Delhi while there are 24 people on ventilator support. While last time, there were 1000 people on ventilator when there were more than 30,000 active cases. The data suggest the severity has become less,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, the national capital reported 15,097 fresh cases of the infection pushing the positivity rate to 15.34 per cent.
According to the bulletin issued by the state health department on Thursday, the number of active cases in the city stands at 31,498. The total count of cases has now gone up to 14,89,463.
With six COVID-related deaths on Thursday, the death tally has gone up to 25,127.
Meanwhile, 6,900 people recovered from the infection yesterday. With this, the recovery tally in the capital city now stands at 14,32,838.
As many as 1,091 people who have been tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized on Thursday
In the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination drive, 1,41,498 eligible beneficiaries were vaccinated on Thursday. Of these, 36,559 were beneficiaries of the age group 15-17 years.
Delhi has been witnessing a rise in infections following the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron. In view of the rising cases, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) decided to impose a weekend curfew in the national capital.

Karnataka govt makes COVID vaccine certificate mandatory for entry in public places

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: In view of the rising COVID-19 cases in the state, the Karnataka government on Friday made COVID vaccine certificate mandatory for entry in public places such as malls, markets and restaurants.
Addressing mediapersons here, state Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar said, “There will be strict enforcement of presenting vaccination certificates, as a universal pass, before entering any public place, including markets, malls, pubs, bars, restaurants, etc.” Sudhakar further said that the travellers from other states will be tested for the presence of the virus and COVID-care centres will be set up in the state.
“Travellers from other states will be tested and COVID-care centres are to be set up. We are collaborating with all hotels and educational institutions for institutional quarantine; monitoring of a uniform, transparent hospital bed management system is underway,” he added.
He further said that the complete lockdown is not a matter of consideration for the government.
“Lockdown is not a remedy. It is now a policy of the past. It was imposed when we did not have a remedy. Now, we know how to treat a person with an infection. Complete lockdown is not a matter of consideration for the government. That much clarity the government has because it is working to protect the lives and interests of people,” said Sudhakar.
He added that the government will ensure strict compliance with COVID-19 norms.
Further speaking on the Omicron variant of COVID-19, he said that the infections are spreading rapidly in six districts– Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Mandya, Mysuru, Udupi and Kolar. These districts have a high positivity rate.
“We are in touch with the district administrations. We will make every effort to bring it down. Though Omicron is not severe, those who have not taken both the jabs of coronavirus vaccine would suffer. In some cases, deaths may also occur,” he warned.
Earlier today, Sudhakar informed that Karnataka reported 107 cases Omicron variant of COVID-19 cases on Thursday taking the tally in the state to 333.
Meanwhile, Karnataka reported 8,449 new COVID-19 cases, 505 recoveries and four deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the state health ministry on Friday.
With this, the active cases tally in the state mounted to 30,113.

Ninety-three Mumbai cops test positive for COVID-19

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: As many as 93 Mumbai policemen tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, informed police on Friday.
With this, 9,657 policemen have tested positive so far in the city. Meanwhile, Mumbai reported 20,181 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the positivity rate to 29.90 per cent, informed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Thursday.
Maharashtra reported 36,265 new cases, 13 deaths and, 8,907 discharges on Thursday.
The State reported 79 Omicron cases today, taking the tally to 876 including 381 recoveries.

185 persons tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID-19 at LNJP till date

              

New Delhi [India]: As many as 410 air passengers have arrived at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital (LNJP Hospital) from December 1, 2021, till the date of which 185 passengers tested positive for Omicron variant of COVID-19.

Speaking to ANI, LNJP Hospital MD, Dr Suresh Kumar said, “From December 1 till now, we have received 410 air passengers. Of these, 185 passengers tested positive for the Omicron variant of COVID. All Omicron patients recovered without Oxygen. The rapid rise in cases is a big challenge for healthcare workers.”
Earlier it was reported that, as many as 20 healthcare workers of Delhi’s LNJP hospital tested positive for COVID-19, confirmed Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital on Thursday.

In a conversation with ANI, Dr Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of LNJP Hospital said, “Total 20 health care workers here have got COVID-19 infection, out of whom 11 are doctors, 8 are nurses and one is a sanitation worker. This is a matter of concern because if only our doctors and nurses are safe, we will be able to take care of the patients. If our workforce gets affected, then it may affect our fight against COVID-19.”

“We have hired 25 per cent extra staff to cater to all the patients,” added Dr Kumar. There are a total of 4,000 healthcare workers in LNJP Hospital. “People who have taken both doses of vaccine are also dying of COVID-19.”

According to the LNJP MD, a large number of healthcare workers are now testing COVID-19 positive in Delhi’s largest COVID hospital, LNJP Hospital.

Meanwhile, Delhi continues to witness a surge in the COVID-19 cases as the national capital reported on Thursday 15,097 fresh cases of the infection in the last 24 hours pushing the positivity rate to 15.34 per cent. According to the bulletin issued by the state health department on Thursday, the number of active cases in the city stands at 31,498. The total count of cases has now gone up to 14,89,463.

UK COVID-19 cases top 14 million

London [UK]: Britain reported another 179,756 COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 14,015,065, according to official figures released Thursday.
The country also reported a further 231 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 149,515, with 17,988 COVID-19 patients still in hospital. New data revealed that the epicentre of the current COVID outbreak in Britain has moved from London to the North West of England.
Figures from the UK Health Security Agency’s latest surveillance report also showed a sharp rise in hospital admissions in older people, especially those aged over 85.
British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has confirmed that more than 20 National Health Service (NHS) trusts have now declared a critical incident.
“There are 137 trusts, there are 24 which are critical. It is not entirely unusual for hospitals to go critical over the winter, often with things like the flu pandemic, but there are very real pressures which I absolutely recognise,” he told Sky News.
He added that an additional 5,000 doctors and 10,000 more nurses are in place across the country compared to last year.
Meanwhile, an estimated 1.3 million people in Britain were experiencing self-reported long COVID as of December 6, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said.
The figure, which only accounts for the four weeks to December 6, represents 2 per cent of the country’s entire population.
The ONS added that 21 per cent who were reporting having long COVID first had or suspected having the virus less than 12 weeks ago. A total of 70 per cent said they had it at least 12 weeks previously and 40 per cent said they were infected at least a year ago.
More than 90 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 82 per cent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 60 per cent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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.

Warning! no paracetamol after anti-covid vaccine otherwise….

             

New Delhi [India]: Experts said that those children who are getting anti-COVID vaccines should not take paracetamol before the consultation of doctors.

The advice was issued in response to growing concerns that some immunisation centres are advising children to take three paracetamol 500 mg tablets after receiving the COVID vaccine.
“Paracetamol is not recommended as prophylaxis, before and after any Covid vaccination as we don’t know how it alters the immune response of vaccine. A low-grade fever, muscle ache, lethargy, headache, soreness at the injection site is common in the first 2 days after vaccination, which usually subsides on its own, without any medication. However, if the fever persists or the intensity increases then paracetamol or other painkiller is advised after consultation with a physician. So paracetamol is to be taken only after consultation and not as prophylaxis for fever, which happens because of immune response of the body to the vaccine components,” said Dr Akshay Budhraja, Sr. Consultant, Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Aakash Healthcare.

To combat the third wave of Omicron cases, the Union government has begun administering the Covid vaccination to teenagers aged 15 to 18. On January 3, the first day of the children’s vaccination programme, over 41 lakh such children received their first dose of vaccine. However, it has been discovered that when children have a fever, they are given paracetamol without consulting a doctor, which can harm them.

“Giving paracetamol to children (15-18 years old) who are receiving COVID vaccines is not recommended these days. It is because it has the potential to cause hepatotoxicity (liver damage caused by drug exposure) in them. If children develop a fever after receiving the COVID vaccine, they should be given Mefenamic acid or Meftal syrup. Adults over the age of 18 who have a fever after receiving the Covid vaccine are safe to take paracetamol,” says Dr Col.Vijay Dutta, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

“It says it is not recommended to take it as a rule – that definitely after taking the vaccine you shouldn’t take Paracetamol. Vaccine-related fever usually occurs within 24 hours of vaccine administration and 1-2 spikes. Other symptoms like some muscle pain, weakness can be there which do not need any medication! Fever 99 and above may need age and weight-specific dose only after consulting with the treating paediatrician. Waiting at the vaccination centre for half an hour post-vaccination. Adequate hydration, rest, and sleep – going about the day, as usual, is sufficient precautions to take while getting vaccinated,” Dr Swetha Reddy Pasam, Consultant-Paediatrics, Apollo TeleHealth.

Previously, Bharat Biotech, which developed India’s first indigenous Covid vaccine, Covaxin, stated that no painkillers or paracetamol are recommended following vaccination with its COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.

Vaccine exemption controversy: Serbia demands Australia to stop treating Djokovic as ‘criminal’

Melbourne [Australia]: Serbia’s foreign secretary Nemanja Starovic has demanded Australia to move world number one Novak Djokovic to a nicer hotel as the defending Australian Open champion continues to stay in the immigration detention centre after his visa was cancelled.
This demand came after Acting Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan revealed that Tennis Australia did not inform her government about Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government letters which stated that a prior COVID infection – the basis for Djokovic’s exemption for COVID-19 vaccination – would not be accepted as a genuine exemption. “We expect that the ambassador personally takes action for him to be moved to accommodation befitting the best sportsman in the world, not a criminal or an illegal immigrant,” Starovic said in the statement, as reported by Sydney Morning Herald.
Starovic has also said that the Serbian public believes that Djokovic has become the victim of political games in Australia.
Djokovic had won his court bid on Thursday and as a result, there was no immediate deportation, allowing the defending Australian Open champion to stay in Melbourne until at least Monday.
Djokovic had decided to mount a legal challenge to his visa cancellation by Australia. He decided to fight it out after he had to spend eight hours in detention at Melbourne Airport where he unsuccessfully pleaded his case to border officials.
Australia on Thursday cancelled world number one Novak Djokovic’s visa to enter the country, Health Minister Greg Hunt confirmed. Earlier, Djokovic had landed in Australia citing a medical exemption to play in the Australian Open. The particular vaccine exemption which Djokovic cited created a huge controversy and it received backlash from the Australian public.
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said Djokovic is no special case and the same rules as everyone will apply to him.

Ajith Kumar’s ‘Valimai’ postponed amid Omicron surge

               

New Delhi [India]: The release date of Ajith Kumar-starrer upcoming Tamil language film ‘Valimai’ has been postponed amid a spike in COVID-19 cases, fuelled by the emergence of the Omicron variant.

Taking to the official Twitter handle, the makers of the film shared a statement confirming the same.
“Audiences and fans have always been the source of our felicity. Their unconditional support and love during the hard times, instilled vital hopes in us to face the hardships, and successfully complete our dream project. All that we desired during every single moment was to see them cheerful and happy in the cinema halls. At the same time, the safety and well-being of our audiences has always been at the forefront of all our decisions,” the statement read.

The makers noted, “Given the steep rise in COVID infections across the globe, and abiding by the regulations of the authorities, we have decided to postpone the release of our film ‘Valimai’ until the situation normalizes. Get vaccinated, wear a mask and stay safe. See you in theatres very soon!”

The trailer of the film that also stars Huma Qureshi in a key role, was released on December 30.

Directed by H. Vinoth and produced by Boney Kapoor, ‘Valimai’, a Tamil film was scheduled to release on January 14, 2022, during the Pongal holiday frame.

Number of COVID-19 cases growing but no rise in casualties, says Maharashtra Health Minister

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: Amid the massive surge in COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, State Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that while cases are rising in the state, the number of casualties has not increased.
He said that the hospitalisations have not increased, and medical oxygen demand also has not gone up. “The number of cases is growing but hospitalisations have not increased. Also, the number of casualties has not increased, medical oxygen demand has not gone up. In the coming days, we will conduct a serosurvey,” said Tope.
Maharashtra on Wednesday had reported 26,538 fresh COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the state health bulletin.
Of the new cases, Mumbai reported the highest number of infections at 15,166.
As per the health bulletin, 67,576,032 cases have been reported in Maharashtra so far including 87,505 active cases.

Mumbai: 21 more employees of BEST test positive for COVID-19, tally reaches 87

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India]: As many as 21 more bus workers of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) on Thursday tested positive for COVID-19, informed Public Relation Officer (PRO) of BEST.
With 21 more cases, the tally has reached 87. BEST PRO said that a total of 22 workers have been discharged so far.
Maharashtra on Wednesday had reported 26,538 fresh COVID-19 cases and eight deaths in the last 24 hours, informed the state health bulletin.
Of the new cases, Mumbai reported the highest number of infections at 15,166.
As per the health bulletin, 67,576,032 cases have been reported in Maharashtra so far including 87,505 active cases.

27th Kolkata International Film Festival called off as COVID-19 cases rise in WB

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India]: The 27th Kolkata International Film Festival, which was slated to be held between January 7-14, has been called off in the wake of the prevailing COVID-19 situation across West Bengal.
The decision of the state government comes a day after the state minister for culture Indranil Sen had announced that there would be 50 per cent occupancy at the venues in the city where KIFF would be held along with a virtual inauguration ceremony. As per an official statement from the government, the rescheduled date of the festival will be communicated in due course of time.
“After assessing the present COVID situation of the State and taking into consideration the possibility of further contamination of covid among the cine lovers and citizens and also owing to the fact that a number of cine personalities attached to film festival committee and many others have been affected by COVID, State Government, upon careful consideration to the safety of the citizens have decided to temporarily postpone the 27th Kolkata International Film Festival scheduled to be held between January 7-14, 2022. Next date of the Festival will be communicated in due course,” it read.
Notably, the state has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases.
West Bengal on Wednesday reported 14,022 new COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths and 6,438 recoveries. The active cases in the state are at 33,042.
According to Union Health Ministry, the state has reported 20 cases of new coronavirus variant Omicron.

UK reports over 190,000 daily COVID-19 cases

London [UK]: Britain reported 194,747 coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period, bringing the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 13,835,334, according to official figures released Wednesday.
The country also reported a further 334 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 149,284, with 17,276 COVID-19 patients still in hospital. Meanwhile, an estimated one in 15 people in England had COVID in the week up to Dec. 31 last year, the equivalent to 3,270,800 people, the British Office for National Statistics said Wednesday.
The figure for the week ending December 31 was up from 2.3 million in the week to December 23. It marked the highest number since comparable figures began in autumn 2020.
Earlier Wednesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson led a cabinet meeting where he recommended sticking with England’s Plan B, which includes work-from-home guidance and mandatory face masks in most public indoor venues.
The move came despite the record infection numbers and increasing pressure on hospitals, with several National Health Service (NHS) trusts declaring critical incidents.
The prime minister’s official spokesman said there are more than 20 such incidents at the moment.
Also, people in England who test positive on a lateral flow device will no longer need a follow-up PCR to begin their isolation period if they do not have symptoms, the UK Health Security Agency has confirmed.
It’s also been announced that pre-departure testing will no longer be required for travellers returning to Britain.
According to the new measures, arrivals will not have to isolate until they get a negative PCR test, but will instead have to take a lateral flow test at the end of day two after arriving.
If that is positive they will then have to take a confirmatory PCR test to help identify any new variants.
In Scotland, it was announced the coronavirus isolation period is to be reduced from 10 days to seven.
More than 90 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and more than 82 per cent have received both doses, according to the latest figures. More than 60 per cent have received booster jabs, or the third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
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.

BJP workers have been asked to actively involve themselves in COVID management: Bommai

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers to actively involve themselves in COVID-19 management in the interest of public health.
Speaking to media persons after a meeting with party State President and other office-bearers here today, Bommai said, “I have asked BJP workers to actively involve themselves in the COVID-19 management in the interest of public health.” “Party workers have also been asked to involve themselves actively in the campaign to tackle the spread of Omicron, the new variant of COVID-19,” Bommai said.
“They can play a role in providing useful information to the public, spreading awareness about precautionary measures, assisting in quarantine, getting ambulance services and vaccination,” he added.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Chief Minister also held a meeting with members of the COVID-19 task force and experts in Bengaluru.
Meanwhile, Karnataka reported 2,479 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Of the 2,479 new cases, 2,053 cases were reported from Bengaluru. The state has 13,532 active COVID-19 cases.

UK logs over 2,00,000 daily COVID-19 cases for first time since start of pandemic

London [UK]: The United Kingdom has reported 218,724 COVID-19 cases in the latest 24-hour period, exceeding 200,000 daily cases for the first time since the start of the pandemic, Xinhua News Agency reported citing official figures on Tuesday.
According to the news agency, this brought the total number of coronavirus cases in the country to 13,641,520. The country also reported a further 48 coronavirus-related deaths. The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Britain now stands at 148,941, with 14,126 COVID-19 patients still in hospital, as per the official release cited by Xinhua News Agency.
Earlier on Tuesday, British Health Secretary told Sky News that there’s nothing in data at this point that suggests that Britain needs to move away from Plan B, which includes guidance to work from home and mandatory face masks in most public indoor venues.
The British government is not planning to cut the isolation period from seven days to five days, as the United States has done, he said.
More than 90 per cent of people aged 12 and over in Britain have had their first dose of vaccine and around 82 per cent have received both doses, according to the latest figures cited by Xinhua News Agency.

India reports first death due to Omicron variant in Rajasthan

New Delhi [India]: The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday confirmed the first death due to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 in India. While addressing a press briefing, the Joint Secretary of Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said, “Technically it is Omicron related death in Rajasthan. He was an elderly person. The person is reported to have co-morbidities, like diabetes among others.”
According to the Union Health Ministry, 108 deaths have been reported so far globally.
“The country has reported 6.3 times increase in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the last eight days,” the Ministry said.
The Health Ministry stated that the spread is a matter of concern.
During the press conference, ICMR head Dr Balram Bhargava said, “Omicron was now the predominant circulating strain in cities and all mass gatherings should be avoided.”
As per the ministry, 2,135 cases of Omicron have been reported in the country with Maharashtra registering the maximum cases followed by Delhi.
The ministry has also said that Maharashtra, West Bengal, Delhi, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Gujarat are States of concern where there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases.
“28 districts in the country are reporting more than 10 per cent weekly positivity,” Ministry has said.
Notably, India on Wednesday reported 58,097 fresh COVID cases and 534 deaths while on Tuesday, the country had recorded 37,379 new COVID cases and 124 deaths.

Bharat Biotech gets SEC approval for phase 3 clinical trials of COVID booster intranasal vaccine

New Delhi [India]: The Subject Experts Committee (SEC) of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on Wednesday granted approval to Bharat Biotech for conducting intranasal phase 3 trials and heterologous trials for COVID-19 booster intranasal vaccine for those who have taken both the doses of Covaxin and Covishield.
The SEC has asked the Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer to submit its revised protocol for trials. “After detailed deliberation, the SEC ‘in principle’ agreed for the conduct of both phase 3 superiority study and phase 3 booster dose study in parallel in the light of the pandemic situation. Accordingly, Bharat Biotech has been asked to submit the protocol(s) as recommended for approval,” reads the SEC minutes of the meeting.
The vaccine manufacturer plans to conduct clinical trials on 5,000 healthy individuals, 50 per cent of whom have received Covishield and the other 50 per cent have been inoculated with Covaxin.
The report submitted by Bharat Biotech also recommended inoculating the COVID-19 Booster dose after 6 months of getting both the primary doses.
The company had applied for permission sometime around mid-December to conduct clinical trials for its intranasal booster dose vaccine.

HC asks Delhi govt to expeditiously consider the issue of early re-testing of COVID-19 positive international travelers

New Delhi [India]: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked Delhi Government to consider expeditiously the issue of early re-testing of international travellers who detected COVID-19 positive on arrival from different foreign countries.
The court was hearing a plea of a mother whose 18-year-old son was admitted to a private hospital in the national capital after he was tested COVID-19 positive upon his arrival here from the United Kingdom.
Justice Rekha Palli asked the Delhi government to expeditiously consider the matter so that patients, like the petitioner’s son, do not suffer.
The petitioner has moved the Delhi High Court last month with her plea seeking to know the outcome of the genome sequencing test carried on her son.
Later her son tested negative and was discharged from the hospital during the pendency of the matter.
The petitioner told the court like her son, various other patients were being kept in
various health facilities for days as the hospitals were not conducting re-testing COVID-19 periodically.
Responding to petition submission, counsel appearing for the hospital submitted that the hospital administration was only following the Delhi government directive that in relation to international travellers who test COVID-19 positive, they have to be re-tested on the tenth day of the first test or after three days of being asymptomatic.
Advocate Arun Panwar, appearing for the Delhi government said they are following the guidelines issued by the Centre and urged the court to grant time to seek instructions.
However Central government counsel Bharati Raju submitted that there was no ban on repeat RT-PCR in their guidelines.
The court had listed the matter for further hearing on January 14.
The petitioner had said that despite her son having no symptoms he was compelled to stay at a private hospital and despite his repeated requests no RTPCR test was conducted.
The petitioner had also told the court she was not being provided with the genomic sequencing report to enable her to ascertain whether her son was suffering from omicron.

CM Stalin urges to people get vaccinated

Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India]: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said that though the infection rate due to Omicron is high, vaccination provides a shield from this new variant.
Urging people to vaccinate themselves, CM Stalin said, “According to medical experts, Omicron is spreading fast. Though the Omicron infection rate in Tamil Nadu is high, vaccination will shield one from this virus. People should maintain social distancing and must wear masks.” He further said that people above 60 years of age should mandatorily take vaccination.

Karnataka CM holding meeting with members of COVID-19 task force, experts in Bengaluru

Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India]: A meeting of Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai with members of the COVID-19 task force and experts is going on in Bengaluru.
State Health minister K Sudhakar, Revenue Minister R Ashok, BBMP Commissioner Gaurav Gupta, Chief Secretary, DGP Praveen Sood, BBMP officials, health senior officials and technical advisory committee members are also present in the meeting. “We are planning to take strict action to curb the Omicron and COVID-19 cases which have already doubled today and Bengaluru is in red-zone as per central government report. That’s why we are preparing beds, oxygen and other needy things. Experts’ suggestions will be considered,” Karnataka Revenue Minister R Ashok told ANI before the meeting.

Thousands protest COVID measures in Netherlands despite ban on gatherings

Amsterdam [Netherlands]: Thousands of demonstrators in the Netherlands on Sunday defied a government ban on large protests to voice their anger over COVID-19 restrictions.
There were some clashes between riot police and protesters in the Dutch capital Amsterdam, reported DW News. The local government in Amsterdam had banned Sunday’s protest, saying police had indications some protesters might be planning “violence.”
Riot police marched across the grass to clear the area, sending the demonstrators into nearby streets.
Protesters congregated in the city centre before marching toward a park in the Dutch capital where a rally of the populist Forum for Democracy party took place, reported DW News.
A small group of protesters briefly clashed with riot police as officers made efforts to clear the crowd from Museum Square, reported DW News.
The municipality later issued an emergency order for people to leave the square.
Most people complied with the call to disperse, given via loudspeaker, from the square in front of the Rijksmuseum. Before officers moved in, some people near the Van Gogh Museum unfurled a banner that read, “Less repression, more care.”
A group of people in white overalls and white masks held up signs, including one that said: “It’s not about a virus, it’s about control” on one side and “Freedom” on the other, reported DW News.
The Netherlands is currently in a strict lockdown, which is expected to last until at least mid-January.
Despite the rapid spread of the highly contagious omicron variant, coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands have been gradually decreasing in recent weeks.
The cases have been on the decline since the country reintroduced lockdown measures in November, before tightening them further during the holiday season, reported DW News.
Meanwhile, more countries in Europe are implementing or considering further measures to contain the Omicron variant as people return to work and school after the holidays.

Omicron cases spike in Thailand during Christmas, New Year holidays

Bangkok [Thailand]: Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health said on Tuesday that a total of 2,062 Omicron cases of COVID-19 have been detected in the country.
Supakit Sirilak, medical sciences director-general from the Ministry of Public Health, noted that omicron cases in the country had spiked up quickly from around 700 before the Christmas and New Year holidays to over 2,000 cases currently. According to the official, out of the Omicron infections, 1,105 were among foreign arrivals and the remainders are local transmissions. Nevertheless, the Delta variant is still the prevailing variant in Thailand, accounting for 70 to 80 percent of the new infections.
Supakit warned that Omicron cases will continue to rise rapidly, as more testing and close monitoring of the situation are required to control the potential spread.
Six provinces – Bangkok, Kalasin, Roi Et, Phuket, Chonburi and Samut Prakan – have reported around 70 percent of these Omicron cases detected in the country.
As of Monday, Thailand has vaccinated 64 percent of its population with two doses, while around 10 percent had already received a booster shot, government data showed.

India’s cumulative COVID-19 vaccination coverage exceeds 147 cr

New Delhi [India]: More than 147 crore COVID-19 vaccination doses have been administered so far in India under the Nationwide vaccination drive, informed the Union Health Ministry on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, India reported 37,379 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the daily positivity rate in the country to 3.24 per cent, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Tuesday. With this, the country’s COVID-19 case tally has risen to 3,48,08,886.
According to Health Ministry, the country has so far reported 1,892 cases of Omicron of which 766 have been recovered.
The Ministry informed that India’s active caseload presently is at 1,71,830, accounts for 1 per cent of the country’s total cases, and is currently at 0.49 per cent.
The weekly positivity rate is at 2.05 per cent, while the daily positivity rate is at 3.24 per cent.
With the recovery of 11,007 patients in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tally of COVID recovered patients, since the beginning of the pandemic, now stands at 3,43,06,414. The current recovery rate is at 98.13 per cent.
The country also reported 124 new fatalities in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 4,82,017.

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