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Festivities Pick Up, Active Cases Dip, New Variants Spark Risk; A Lethal Strain 'Made' | What's Up With Covid

By: News Desk

Edited By: Nayanika Sengupta

News18.com

Last Updated: October 19, 2022, 11:32 IST

New Delhi, India

File photo: Crowd at Delhi's Sadar Bazar market amid Diwali festivities. (PTI)

File photo: Crowd at Delhi's Sadar Bazar market amid Diwali festivities. (PTI)

After a curb-free Navratri, Diwali festivities have lit up the country, however, authorities have flagged the risk of Covid cases rising especially during winters and the festive season amid emergence of new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1

The festive season is here in full swing, with Covid situation in the country seeming to be in control as the active cases have now declined to 25,968, as per Union health ministry’s bulletin on Wednesday.

After a restriction-free Navratri, Diwali markets and festivities have lit up the country, however, authorities have flagged the risk of Covid-19 cases rising especially during winters and the festive season amid emergence of new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday reviewed the Covid situation amid detection of cases of a new sub-variant of Omicron from parts of the country and concluded that wearing masks and following Covid-appropriate behaviour should continue.

ALSO READ: With Two Contagious Covid Variants Looming Over India, Here is Why You Need to Mask up This Diwali | In GFX

The Maharashtra government also cautioned on Tuesday that Covid cases could rise especially during winters and the festive season, citing new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 reported from the state. These variants have been detected for the first time in the country, the state government said.

Meanwhile, a university in the US has “made" a hybrid virus — combining Omicron and the original Wuhan strain — that was found to have an 80 per cent kill rate. Scroll down to know more about it.

Here’s What All is Up With Covid:

India Reports 1,946 New Cases, Active Cases Now 25,968

India recorded 1,946 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, with which the tally of total cases logged so far reached 4,46,34,376, while the active cases declined to 25,968, according to the Health Ministry bulletin on Wednesday.

The death toll climbed to 5,28,923 with 10 fresh fatalities in the last 24 hours, which include six deaths reconciled by Kerala. Of the four new deaths, two are from Maharashtra and one each from Haryana and West Bengal, the data updated by the the Union health ministry at 8 am stated.

The active cases comprise 0.06 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.76 per cent, it said. There has been a decrease of 481 cases in the active caseload in 24 hours.

The daily positivity rate was recorded at 0.75 per cent, while the weekly positivity rate was 1.01 per cent, the health ministry said. The number of recoveries climbed to 4,40,79,485, while the case fatality rate was 1.19 per cent.

• Mandaviya Reviews Covid Situation Amid Festive Season, Says Mask Mandate Should Continue

With the festive season being at its peak, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday reviewed the Covid situation amid detection of cases of a new sub-variant of Omicron from parts of the country. The meeting concluded that wearing masks and following Covid-appropriate behaviour should continue, a health ministry statement said.

The meeting came as many countries are witnessing a steep rise in Covid cases with the emergence of new Omicron variants.

During the meeting with public health experts and officials, Mandaviya reviewed the pandemic situation, status of vaccination drive and the global scenario of new variants of Covid, it said. The minister stressed on monitoring entry points, the statement said.

Mandaviya stressed the need to undertake adequate testing (with higher proportion of RTPCR) and effective Covid surveillance to assess and control the spread of infection in a timely manner. He directed officials to continue to focus on surveillance, particularly through sentinel sites including monitoring of SARI and ILI cases, and on Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to scan for any possible mutation in the wake of identification of Omicron variants in other countries, the statement said.

He also urged officials to closely monitor hospitalisations due to Covid and urged officials to increase the pace of vaccination, including precautionary dose to eligible beneficiaries, it said. Mandaviya also pointed out the need for community awareness for continued implementation of Covid Appropriate Behaviour especially in view of the upcoming festival season.

• Maharashtra Flags Risk of Covid Spike Over New Virus Variants

The Maharashtra health department has cautioned that the Covid cases in the state could rise especially during winters and the festive season amid new variants like BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 reported from the state.

The state government also said that the new XBB variant of coronavirus has a growth advantage over BA.2.75 and has immune evasive property. Maharashtra’s Monday health bulletin said Covid cases rose by 17.7 per cent in the state between October 10 and 16 as compared to between October 3 and 9.

This rise has been noticed particularly in the densely populated districts of Thane, Raigad and Mumbai, it said. “Some experts are predicting a rise in the coming winter season especially in the festive environment. In WGS (whole genome sequencing), the proportion of BA.2.75 has decreased to 76 per cent from 95 per cent," the bulletin said.

“The state has reported XBB which is a new variant having growth advantage over BA.2.75 and immune evasive property. Apart from this, the state has reported BA.2.3.20 and BQ.1 variant first time in India, it said. The health department asked people not to ignore flu-like symptoms, seek medical advice at the earliest and observe Covid-appropriate behaviour at public places. It has also urged people to get vaccinated.

“People with comorbidities need to take extra precautions while visiting public places. Persons suffering with influenza-like illness should avoid public contacts as much as possible, the health bulletin said.

• Festival Season a ‘Critical Period’, Says BMC; Asks Citizens to Follow Covid Protocols

Mumbai’s civic body on Tuesday issued an advisory urging citizens to adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour in the upcoming festive season to prevent a spike in cases.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) asked citizens to get vaccinated against the viral infection, if not done so till now and also get booster dose, and wear face masks in crowded places and follow other Covid-19 protocols.

ALSO READ: Festival Season a ‘Critical Period’, Says BMC; Asks Citizens to Follow COVID-19 Protocols

In a statement, the BMC said the festival season is a critical period as there may be a tendency to ignore Covid-19 safe behaviour during festivals due to large gatherings, events, fairs and crowds in enclosed and non-ventilated spaces.

The civic body advised citizens to get themselves tested immediately if they develop symptoms of the respiratory infection. “The importance of early detection is also related to effectiveness of treatment taken. Therefore, the sooner you know you are sick, the easier it will be to determine when you need treatment or hospitalization," the statement said.

Asking people to avoid close contact with symptomatic coronavirus patients, the civic body asked them to wash hands frequently, maintain good ventilation indoors, wear face masks at crowded places, cover nose and mouth with handkerchief/tissue paper while sneezing and coughing.

• Boston University ‘Creates’ New Covid Strain with ‘80% Kill Rate’ | All You Need to Know

With the life coming back to normal as Covid-19 on the retreat, a new Covid strain which has 80% kill rate has been found in the US. A team of Boston University scientists claimed that they have made a hybrid virus — combining Omicron and the original Wuhan strain — that killed 80 per cent of mice in a study, according to DailyMail.com.

Experts have slammed the scientists for “playing with fire” and involving in such a “dangerous virus manipulation” research which has not been peer-reviewed. Professor Shmuel Shapira, a leading scientist in the Israeli Government, said: ‘This should be totally forbidden, it’s playing with fire.’

READ FULL REPORT HERE

There are theories that a virus manipulation research in China may have started the pandemic. A lab in China’s Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected, carried out similar research on bat coronaviruses.

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first published:October 19, 2022, 11:19 IST
last updated:October 19, 2022, 11:32 IST
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