South Korea reported its first two cases of the Omicron variant on Wednesday, media said, as daily coronavirus infections rose above 5,000 for the first time, stoking concern over a sharp rise in patients with severe symptoms. A fully vaccinated couple tested positive for the variant after arriving last week from Nigeria, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported, citing health authorities. Read More
Key EventsKey Events
On Day one of India’s new travel guidelines coming into effect, six Covid-19 positive cases were found after screening 3,476 passengers from 11 international flights from ‘at risk’ countries. Samples of these passengers have been sent for genomic sequencing to find out if they have been infected with the new Omicron variant, first found in southern Africa. These passengers landed at separate airports in the country from 11 flights from Tuesday midnight to 4 pm on Wednesday. The government said that all the 3,476 passengers underwent RT-PCR tests.
Maharashtra recorded 767 coronavirus positive cases and 28 fatalities in the last 24 hours, a health bulletin said on Wednesday. With the latest additions, Maharashtra’s tally of infections rose to 66,36,425 and the COVID-19 death toll to 1,41,025. A total of 903 patients were discharged during the day, taking the number of recoveries in Maharashtra to 64,84,338 at the recovery rate of 97.71 per cent, leaving the state with 7,391 active cases, the bulletin said. The cumulative number of tests conducted in Maharashtra climbed to 6,56,19,951 after 1,08,557 samples were examined, the lowest in recent times, in the last 24 hours, it said.
The cumulative number of Covid vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 125 crore on Wednesday, the Union Health Ministry said. More than 71,55,049 vaccine doses have been administered till 7 pm, it said. The daily vaccination tally is expected to increase with the compilation of the final reports for the day by late night, the ministry said. The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 with healthcare workers (HCWs) getting inoculated in the first phase. The vaccination of frontline workers (FLWs) started from February 2.
Total 11 international flights landed at various airports of the country except Lucknow, from midnight to 4 pm today, from “at risk” countries. These carried 3476 passengers. All passengers were administered RT-PCR tests, wherein only 6 passengers were found Covid-19 positive.
Total 11 international flights landed at various airports of the country except Lucknow, from midnight to 4 pm today, from "at risk" countries. These carried 3476 passengers. All pax were administered RT-PCR tests, wherein only 6 pax were found #COVID19 positive: Govt of India pic.twitter.com/fUxVH0yscv
— ANI (@ANI) December 1, 2021
Chennai airport officials have slashed the price of RT-PCR test by Rs 200 amid growing concerns over Coronavirus variant Omicron. According to the revised rate, the test will now cost Rs 700 instead of the earlier rate Rs 900.
#UPDATE | International Passengers travelling (arr/dep) through @aaichnairport can pre-book their #covidtest slots using the link https://t.co/nTVUMiHbUC or through QR access. The RT-PCR charges @HllHindlabs will be Rs.700 w.e.f 01.12.2021. @AAI_Official pic.twitter.com/J8pNeMtu5L
— Chennai (MAA) Airport (@aaichnairport) December 1, 2021
Karnataka on Wednesday logged 322 new cases of COVID-19 and two deaths, taking the total number of infections to 29,96,470 and death toll to 38,213, the health department said. The day also saw 162 discharges, pushing the total number of recoveries to 29,51,654. Of the new cases, 165 were from Bengaluru Urban, as the city saw 72 discharges and 1 death. Total number of active cases in the state is at 6,574.
6 Covid-19 positive cases have been reported after screening of 3,476 passengers from 11 international flights from “at risk” countries. The samples of positive passengers have been sent for Genomic Sequencing.
Serum Institute of India has sought from India’s drug regulator approval for Covishield as a booster dose citing adequate stock of the vaccine in the country and a demand for a booster shot due to the emergence of new coronavirus variants, official sources said. In an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Prakash Kumar Singh, the Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) cited that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has already approved the booster dose of AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, they said.
Nigeria has confirmed its first cases of the Omicron COVID-19 variant among two travellers who arrived from South Africa last week, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said on Wednesday.
France said Wednesday it would allow in flights from ten southern African countries from Saturday, but with “drastic” restrictions permitting only French and EU residents to disembark, along with diplomats and flight crews. These travellers must have a Covid test upon arrival, with a negative result still requiring a seven-day quarantine, while a positive test will prompt a 10-day quarantine, government spokesman Gabriel Attal said after a cabinet meeting. France is one of several countries worldwide that halted flights from southern Africa in recent days after the more contagious Omicron strain of coronavirus was reported by South Africa.
The Maharashtra government has made the RT-PCR test compulsory for all passengers arriving at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport amid concerns over Omicron variant. The RT-PCR test will also be compulsory for domestic passengers flying in from other states of the country, the revised guidelines issued on November 30 said.
Kerala on Wednesday recorded 5,405 fresh COVID-19 cases and 403 deaths, raising the caseload to 51,35,390 and the toll to 40,535 respectively, the State government said. Of the 403 deaths, 96 were reported over the last few days and 307 were designated as COVID-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court, an official press release said. With 4,538 more people recovering from the virus since Tuesday, the total recoveries reached 50,61,906 and the active cases 44,124, the release said.
Japan on Wednesday started offering coronavirus vaccine booster shots to health care workers amid growing concerns over a new variant of the virus that has already been detected in the country.
Germany reported the highest number of deaths from coronavirus since mid-February on Wednesday as hospitals warned that the country could have 6,000 people in intensive care by Christmas, above the peak of last winter. The Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s state infectious disease agency, reported 67,186 new cases on Wednesday, up 302 from a week ago, and 446 deaths – the highest daily figure since Feb. 18, bringing the overall death toll to 101,790. However, the seven-day incidence rate per 100,000 fell for a second day to 442.9 people, from 452.2 people on Tuesday.
Patients who survive severe COVID-19 may have more than twice the risk of dying over the following year, compared with those who experience mild or moderate disease or remain uninfected, according to a study published on Wednesday. The researchers found that the increased risk of dying was greater for patients who are under 65, and only 20 per cent of the severe COVID-19 patients who died did so because of typical COVID-19 complications, such as clotting disorders or respiratory failure. The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Medicine, suggests that severe COVID-19 may significantly damage long-term health and highlights the importance of preventing severe disease through vaccination.
Japan continued its aggressive stance against a new coronavirus variant on Wednesday, asking international airlines to stop taking new reservations for all flights arriving in the country until the end of December in a further tightening of already strict border controls. The transportation ministry said the request is an emergency precaution amid growing worry over the spread of the new omicron variant.
The Centre on Wednesday decided to postpone the resumption of scheduled international flights from December 15 citing “evolving global scenario” in the wake of the Omicron threat. The government will announce a new date later. Announced by Aviation regulator DGCA, the new order, however, won’t affect the current flights that are operating as it is only for the complete resumption that has now been postponed.
With over 3.1 lakh fresh COVID-19 cases, the month of November saw the lowest number of people contracting the viral disease in the country since May last year. The monthly tally of fresh COVID-19 cases registered a decline for the sixth time in a row in November. The number of daily cases peaked on May 6, when the country registered 4,14,188 Covid cases in a span of 24 hours. On Wednesday, the number of active cases of the infection was recorded below one lakh in the country after 547 days.
The Centre on Wednesday told Maharashtra government that the restrictions imposed by it on international passengers in the wake of the Omicron threat are in “divergence” with the SoPs issued by the Health Ministry on November 28. In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has urged Maharashtra to align the orders issued by the state government with the guidelines of the Health Ministry. READ MORE
The Sapphire Brahmachari Institution in West Bengal’s Purbasthali has been shut after two teachers tested positive for Covid-19. The situation has turned worrisome for the students and parents. This comes just weeks after the government opened schools following a year-and-a-half gap. However, with two teachers testing positive, the school administration was left with no option but to shut the institution again. While one teacher tested positive on Monday, another one was found infected the next day. Besides, some other teachers have also reported symptoms like fever, cold and cough. The school will now be testing all the teachers and other staff members.
Maharashtra will implement quarantine measures from tomorrow, a day after it originally planned, to avoid confusion as several flights were already mid-air. The government mandated 7-day home isolation for all those who test negative on arrival. This is besides the mandatory institutional quarantine of 7 days for those arriving from ‘at risk nations’.
International passengers arriving from ‘at risk’ countries will be deplaned on priority and separate counters will be arranged for their checking. All such passengers will undergo a mandatory 7-day institutional quarantine and RT-PCR test to be carried out on days 2, 4 and 7 for them. If any of the tests are found to be positive, then the passenger will be shifted to a hospital. In case of all tests are found to be negative, the passengers will have to undergo a further 7 days of home quarantine.
The nations that are currently on the ‘at-risk’ list of India are European countries, including the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel.
India jumped 19 spots ahead in the list of countries to be amid the pandemic, according to Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking.The country is now ranked 26th in the monthly snapshot, which measures where the virus is being handled the most effectively with the least social and economic upheaval. High levels of natural immunity and increased vaccination drives may have contributed to India’s ranking.
The Omicron coronavirus variant was present in Europe before the first cases were reported in South Africa, new data from the Netherlands showed on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Latin America reported its first two cases in Brazil. In the week since the new virus strain was reported to the World Health Organization by South Africa, dozens of countries around the world have responded with travel restrictions — most targeting southern African nations. But the World Health Organization warned Tuesday — as Canada expanded its restrictions to also include Egypt and Nigeria — that “blanket” travel bans risked doing more harm than good.
Re-opening of schools in several districts of Maharashtra have been postponed due to the Omicron variant scare. The Pune Municipal Corporation on Tuesday announced to postpone the reopening of schools for classes 1 to 7, till December 15. Nagpur Municipal Commissioner Radhakrishnan B said that schools will not be opened for classes 1 to 7 till December 10. After that, the situation will be reviewed & a decision will be taken accordingly, he said.
Health officials in Brazil have reported the country’s first confirmed cases of the omicron variant in two travelers returning from South Africa, the first such cases in Latin America. The Sao Paulo state health secretariat said a 41-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman are in isolation. They had their tests taken on Nov. 25 and showed light symptoms of the disease at the time.
Unvaccinated vulnerable should postpone travel to areas with community transmission, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.