By: News Desk
Last Updated: December 18, 2021, 23:47 IST
As the World Health Organization (WHO) grants an emergency approval to Serum Institute of India’s Covovax, a top Indian government scientist has recommended that it be used as a booster shot to counter the threat posed by the emerging omicron variant of coronavirus, India Today reported. Anurag Agrawal, one of the directors of the government’s genome sequencing monitoring agency INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium), said Covovax has greater efficacy as a booster dose than Covishield, however, further clinical studies are required on how much resistance Novovax provides against the Omicron Read More
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Maharashtra on Saturday reported 854 fresh coronavirus positive cases, including eight patients of the Omicron variant, the health department said. The latest additions pushed the tally of COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra to 66,48,694 while 11 more patients succumbed to the viral infection, the health department said. The overall death toll increased to 1,41,340, it said. With eight more cases of the Omicron variant being detected, their tally in Maharashtra rose so far to 48 on Saturday. Of these eight Omicron cases, four were detected at the Mumbai airport while three are from Satara and one from Pune, the department added. Of these 48 cases, 28 patients of the Omicron variant were discharged after their RT-PCR test reports came negative, it said.
India’s Omicron Covid-19 count rose to 126 on Saturday after Karnataka and Kerala reported six and four cases respectively, while three more persons in Maharashtra also tested positive for the variant. Telangana also registered twelve Omicron cases on Saturday. According to officials while three cases in Telangana were Indian nationals, nine were foreign nationals. Of the 12 cases, 6 were from Kenya 6, two from Somalia, two from UAE, one each from Ghana and Tanzania. According to central and state officials, omicron cases have been detected in 11 states and union territories — Maharashtra (43), Delhi (22), Rajasthan (17) and Karnataka (14), Gujarat (7), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (1), Chandigarh (1), Tamil Nadu (1) and West Bengal (1).
The UK government is reportedly drawing up plans for a short two-week circuit breaker lockdown later this month, after Christmas, to try and keep pace with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, media reports said on Saturday. According to The Times, draft regulations are being prepared, which would ban different households meeting indoors except for work purposes and pubs and restaurants being limited to outdoor service only.
The Omicron variant has now been identified in 89 countries and is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant in places where community transmission is high, with a doubling time between 1.53 days, the WHO has said. In its ‘Enhancing Readiness for Omicron (B.1.1.529): Technical Brief and Priority Actions for Member States’ report on Friday, the World Health Organisation said that given the current available data, it is likely that Omicron will outpace Delta where community transmission occurs.
Four more new cases of the Omicron variant were detected from Kerala on Saturday, taking the overall tally to 11, the state health department said. Two cases of the new variant of the coronavirus were detected from Thiruvananthapuram in patients aged 17 and 44. One case was detected in Malappuram, aged 37 and another case was a 49-year-old patient from Thrissur district. “The 17-year-old patient in Thiruvananthapuram came from the UK while the 44-year-old reached the state from Tunisia in a chartered flight. The patient in Malappuram came from Tanzania while the Thrissur native came from Kenya,” Health Minister Veena George said in a release.
Delhi government is ready to tackle the Omicron variant of COVID, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday. He advised people not to panic saying even though the variant was said to spread faster than the previous ones, its symptoms were mild. He said Delhi was unlikely to face another wave of infections, since according to the sero survey conducted by the Delhi government, 96 per cent of the state population was found to have antibodies and a majority of them were vaccinated. “I have been holding meetings these last few days and I want to assure people that our government is ready to tackle Omicron,” Kejriwal said at a Christmas and New Year event hosted by the Delhi Assembly Speaker here in the assembly premises.
With 151 fresh cases, Jammu and Kashmir’s COVID-19 tally has climbed to 3,39,691, while the death toll due to the viral disease has gone up to 4,511 with one more fatality, officials said on Saturday. Of the fresh cases, 42 were reported from the Jammu division and 109 from the Kashmir division of the Union Territory, they added. Srinagar district recorded the highest number of 55 cases, followed by 17 cases each in Baramulla and Jammu districts, the officials said. There are 1,458 active cases of the infection in the Union Territory currently, while the number of patients who have recuperated is 3,33,722, they added.
Four new cases of Omicron have been reported in Kerala, raising the total number of cases of the new variant in the state to 11. Among those infected include, a UK traveller who returned to Trivandrum and another who returned to Trivandrum from Tunisia.
Kerala recorded 3,297 new positive cases and 43 COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday, taking the total affected in the state to 52,02,765 and the death toll to 44,407. The State health department tested 52,570 samples in the last 24 hours and there are six wards across five local self government bodies in the state with a weekly infection population ratio above ten per cent. Meanwhile, 3,609 persons recuperated from the disease, taking the total cured to 51,37,619. “Currently, there are 31,901 active COVID-19 cases in the state of which only 8.2 per cent patients require hospitalisation,” the health department said in a release.
Omicron’s transmissibility is quite high as compared to Delta, but it’s not as severe as Delta… I don’t see anything like second wave, but there might be a huge number of cases due to high transmissibility, Dr Puneet Misra, Professor of Community Medicine at AIIMS said.
With the gradual spread of Omicron variant of coronavirus in the national capital, the impact of dwindling number of shoppers is not lost on traders as they get ready to face an impending third wave of the pandemic. Twelve more people tested positive for the Omicron variant in Delhi on Friday, taking their number to 22, and officials said most of them are “fully vaccinated” and “asymptomatic”. Sanjay Bhargava, president, Chandni Chowk Vyapar Mandal said they are “waiting and watching” for now, even as they have requested authorities to increase the police presence in the area.
Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Saturday said six more cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been detected in the state. Of six cases, five have have been detected from COVID clusters that have emerged from two educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada district. This takes the state’s tally of Omicron cases to fourteen. “Two cluster outbreaks of COVID have been reported from two educational institutions in Dakshina Kannada today: Cluster 1: 14 cases (of which 4 are Omicron). Cluster 2: 19 cases (1 is Omicron). A traveller from UK has also tested positive for Omicron,” Sudhakar tweeted.
BMC has announced new guildelines in view of rising Omicron cases in Maharashtra. They are:
-Squads will be deployed at ward level to take action against violators. -Strict adherence to rules for attendance at weddings, ceremonies. -In closed spaces, people upto 50% capacity allowed. -In open spaces, people upto 25% capacity allowed. If a gathering with more than 1,000 people is planned, prior permission of Local Disaster Management Authority is mandatory. -It appealed people to avoid gatherings on Christmas and New Year.
Amid the growing cases of Omicron in the country, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Saturday appealed people to avoid to avoid crowding and warned of strict action against offenders. BMC commissioner Iqbal Chahal has appealed people to avoid gatherings on Christmas and New Year. In a revised guideline, the Mumbai civic body has said that the squads will be deployed at ward level to take action against violators. It also reiterated adhering to rules during weddings and other ceremonies.
India’s Omicron cases count crossed the 100 mark on Friday after recording the highest single day rise of 24 fresh cases of the new variant, even as the Centre advised people to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings and keep New Year celebrations at low intensity. Addressing a joint news conference in Delhi, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said though daily COVID-19 cases are below 10,000 for the past 20 days, there is a need to stay vigilant in view of the new Omicron variant and rising cases in other countries. READ MORE
The Delhi government on Saturday converted four private hospitals into facilities for isolating and treating suspected Omicron cases. The move comes after the national capital reported 12 more cases of the new Covid variant, taking their number to 22. Apart from the Lok Nayak Jai Prakash (LNJP) Hospital, which was Delhi’s dedicated facility for Omicron cases, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Max (Saket), Fortis (Vasant Kunj) and Batra Hospital (Tughlakabad) will be treating the variant cases.
Delhi Govt converts 4 pvt hospitals – Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Max (Saket), Fortis (Vasant Kunj) & Batra Hospital (Tughlakabad) – as Omicron dedicated centres. A total of 5 hospitals in Delhi, including LNJP hospital, will now provide the treatment for the variant.
— ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2021
“As far as Omicron is concerned, the main issue is its transmissibility. Nearly 80 countries are affected which means it is highly transmissible. A large no of people can get affected in India because of large population density,” Dr Niranjan Mishra, Director of Public Health, Odisha said. He also said that Odisha is increasing the bed strength, ICUs and oxygen availability. “People coming from ‘at risk’ countries are sent to 7 days home quarantine. We are increasing our Omicron surveillance and genome testing is done immediately if any positive case is detected,” he added.
The heavily mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the world at a remarkable speed. So far, the variant has been reported in 77 countries, faster than any other strain, as per the World Health Organization (WHO). Amid the sudden surge, the global experts are focusing on inoculating the population as soon as possible. “Countries can and must prevent the spread of Omicron with proven health and social measures. Our focus must continue to be to protect the least protected and those at high risk,” Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region told News18. She added that so far, the overall threat posed by Omicron largely depends on three key questions – its transmissibility; how well the vaccines and prior SARS-CoV-2 infection protect against it, and how virulent the variant is as compared to other variants.
18 students of a school at Ghansoli in Navi Mumbai have tested positive for coronavirus and admitted to a local COVID Care Centre, a civic official said on Saturday. They are students of Classes 8 to 11, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) official said.
Maharashtra | 18 students of a school in Ghansoli, Navi Mumbai, have tested #COVID19 positive, out of more than 950 students who've been tested. The school will be shut for the next week; remaining students to be tested at their residences today: NMMC Commissioner, Abhijit Bangar pic.twitter.com/o4FdxG7vru
— ANI (@ANI) December 18, 2021
India logged 7,145 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,47,33,194, while the active cases declined to 84,565, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Saturday. The death toll climbed to 4,77,158 with 289 more fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am. The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been recorded below 15,000 for the last 51 days now. The active cases comprise 0.24 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.38 per cent, the highest since March 2020, the health ministry said.
In the past 24 hours, India reported 7,415 Covid-19 cases. Amid travel restrictions and stringent testing, the heavily mutated Omicron variant continues to spread like fire. On Friday, Italy, New York, and the UK reported the biggest one-day increase on record- 28,632; 21,027 and 93,045 fresh coronavirus cases, respectively. Passengers in France rushed to beat a midnight deadline for travel to and from Britain and France before the country bans non-essential travel between both countries to contain rampant Omicron infections.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex says the Omicron variant will be the dominant strain of coronavirus in France from the start of 2022, comparing its spread in Europe to “lightning”.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation on Friday issued an emergency use listing for anti-COVID vaccine Covovax produced by Serum Institute of India under licence from Novavax, expanding the basket of jabs validated by the global health body against the viral disease. Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII), hailed WHO’s decision as “yet another milestone” in the fight against COVID-19.
“WHO issued an emergency use listing for Covovax, expanding the basket of WHO-validated vaccines against COVID-19. The vaccine is produced by the Serum Institute of India under licence from Novavax,” the world health body said in a tweet on Friday.
Underlining that India faces a stage of “worry” with the onset of winters, officials told The Times of India that if daily cases in the United Kingdom and France are extrapolated in the context of India’s population, they would mean 14-15 lakh cases a day. “As Omicron is spreading very fast across Europe and most parts of the world, there is a need to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings. New Year celebrations have to be low-key,” ICMR director-general Dr Balram Bhargava told TOI.
So far, in India, the Omicron cases are- Maharashtra (32), Delhi (22) and Rajasthan (17) have reported maximum number of cases, Karnataka and Telangana have recorded eight each, Gujarat and Kerala five each, and Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal one each till 4pm on Friday.
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