India on Thursday saw the biggest single-day jump of 495 Omicron cases. Meanwhile, 90,928 new coronavirus infections were reported, the highest in over 200 days, taking India’s caseload to 3,51,09,286, the data stated.
You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.
Here are the updates:
125 passengers on charter flight from Italy test positive for Covid in Amritsar
A total of 125 passengers on a Milan-Amritsar charter flight were found to be Covid positive when tested on arrival, government officials said on January 6.
Officials said there were a total of 179 passengers on the charter flight YU-661 that landed at the Amritsar airport at around 1.30 p.m. on January 5. — PTI
MoS Home Nityanand Rai tests COVID-19 positive
Union Minister Nityanand Rai tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday, a day after he attended an event where chiefs of Central Armed Police Forces were present.
Mr. Rai, 56, a Lok Sabha member from Bihar, is Union Minister of State for Home Affairs.
“I have tested positive for Covid. I have completely isolated myself. People who came in contact with me are requested to take necessary steps,” Mr. Rai tweeted in Hindi.
On Wednesday, the minister attended an event here where Ayushman health cards were distributed among CAPF personnel. Chiefs of CRPF, BSF, ITBP, CISF and SSB attended the event. The NSG was represented by an Inspector General-rank officer. – PTI
Centre asks 9 States, Union Territories to step up testing
Underlining the highly transmissible nature of Omicron and the preponderance of asymptomatic cases, the Centre has urged nine States and Union Territories to ramp up COVID-19 testing to ensure that infected people do not spread the virus to others.
In a letter to Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Jammu and Kashmir and Bihar, Additional Secretary of Union Health Ministry Arti Ahuja pointed out a considerable decline in COVID-19 testing amid rising cases and positivity rate and said it is a “cause for concern”.- PTI
French Parliament gives initial nod to vaccine pass after tumult
France’s Lower House of Parliament on Thursday finally passed in a first reading a bill further tightening its Covid measures, after three days of tense debates fuelled by President Emmanuel Macron’s warning that he wanted to “piss off” the unvaccinated.
The bill would make it obligatory to have a full course of vaccination against Covid-19 to enjoy basic parts of life including inter-city train travel, attending cultural events or eating out. A recent test or proof of recovery will no longer be valid.
The legislation was expected to pass relatively smoothly through parliament with support from the right-wing opposition, but was initially blocked this week when deputies managed to defeat the government on a procedural vote on continuing debates after midnight.- AFP
Delhi likely to see 14,000 COVID cases on Thursday: Satyendar Jain
Delhi is expected to record 14,000 fresh Covid cases on Thursday, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said.
Speaking to reporters, the minister also said the city is in a comfortable position in terms of hospital bed occupancy and there is no need for a lockdown right now.
Mr. Jain said the number of cases in Delhi is high due as a large number of people are being tested for COVID-19 in the city.
“We have been conducting a large number of tests. If we don’t do that, the new cases can reduce to 500-1,000. A lot of people (states) don’t conduct tests and say they don’t have cases. We have been transparent,” he said.- PTI
Delhi Govt extends application deadline for private school nursery admissions
The Delhi Government has extended the application deadline for nursery admissions in private schools by two weeks in view of the prevailing Covid situation, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said on January 6.
The last date to apply for admissions to entry level classes in Delhi private schools was January 12.
“Keeping in view the prevailing Covid conditions, the last date for filing applications for admission in nursery and entry level classes in private schools of Delhi is being extended for further two weeks,” Mr. Sisodia tweeted. — PTI
Gauhati HC starts working in virtual mode amid COVID surge
The Gauhati High Court started functioning through the virtual mode with a staggered roster from Thursday in view of the surge in COVID-19 cases in Assam, an official order said.
Entry to the court premise was restricted only to the essential persons who are fully vaccinated, it added.
The order, issued by the Registrar General of the Court on instructions of the Chief Justice, said, “The courts shall function in virtual mode with staggered roster, so as to avoid footfalls and to maintain social distancing.” A limited number of cases will be listed and advocates and parties-in-person may mention their matters showing the urgency before the court, it said.- PTI
Vibrant Gujarat Summit postponed as cases rise
In the wake of COVID-19 third wave that is spreading across the State, the Gujarat government has decided to postpone its flagship event Vibrant Gujarat Summit scheduled on January 10-12. It was to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the presence of his counterparts from Nepal and Russia and a few other countries.
“Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel has taken a decision to postpone the summit after a comprehensive review of the emerging situation,” a State government release stated.
Haryana orders closure of cinema halls, multiplexes till Jan. 12 in six more districts
Amid the rising COVID-19 cases in Haryana, authorities have ordered the closure of cinema halls, multiplexes and sports complexes in six more districts till January 12, according to an official order.
The six districts where the restrictions will be applicable are Karnal, Panipat, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar, Rohtak and Jhajjar.
The restrictions were imposed in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ambala, Panchkula and Sonipat from January 2 to 12.
According to the latest order issued by the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority on Wednesday, the restrictions will be applicable in all 11 districts till 5 am on January 12.- PTI
Andaman and Nicobar
Curbs for tourists in Andamans amid rise in COVID-19 cases
The Andaman and Nicobar administration announced a set of curbs for tourists amid the rise in COVID-19 cases.
Now on, 500 visitors will be allowed during in the first half, 9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m., at the museums of the Cellular Jail, which is a top draw among tourists.
A similar number of visitors will be allowed in the second half, 1.00 p.m. to 4.00 p.m., as per an order issued by the Directorate of Tourism.
At the light and sound shows in Cellular Jail and Netaji Subhash Bose Island, only 50% of the capacity will be allowed, the order said.
The visitors will have to follow all COVID guidelines, it added.
Besides, all the tourist boats will have to operate with 70% capacity, the Directorate of Tourism said.- PTI
U.S. Forces in Japan ordered to wear masks as COVID-19 cases jump
The U.S. military on Thursday ordered personnel stationed in Japan to wear masks when going off base to curb the spread of COVID-19 infections.
American forces have come under fire after a recent spike in coronavirus cases in areas where they are based in large numbers, including Okinawa and Iwakuni, both in southern Japan.
Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki sent a request to Japan’s national government on Thursday asking for permission for the prefecture to strengthen its anti-COVID measures.
At least 980 people, a daily record for Okinawa, tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.- AP
Aurobindo Pharma launches COVID-19 drug Molnupiravir in India
Aurobindo Pharma Limited has launched COVID-19 treatment drug Molnupiravir under brand name “Molnaflu” in India.
Molnupiravir is for treatment of adult patients hospitalised with COVID-19, under certain conditions, a press release from the city-based drug maker said.
Molnupiravir was earlier approved under Emergency Use Authorisation from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation.- PTI
Junior Health Minister Bharati Pawar tests positive for COVID-19
Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Bharati Pawar on Thursday said she has tested positive for coronavirus.
“Today my #Covid-19 test report has come out positive and I have quarantined myself at home. All those who came in contact with me in the last few days are requested to get their #Covid test done and follow the rules for prevention of coronavirus,” the minister tweeted.
Mr. Pawar is the Lok Sabha member from Dindori in Nashik district of Maharashtra.- PTI
India records biggest single-day rise of 495 Omicron cases
India on Thursday saw the biggest single-day jump of 495 Omicron cases, taking the total number of infections of the new variant of coronavirus to 2,630, according to Union health ministry data.
Of the total cases, Maharashtra has the maximum at 797, followed by Delhi at 465, Rajasthan 236, Kerala 234, Karnataka 226, Gujarat 204 and Tamil Nadu 121.
Meanwhile, 90,928 new coronavirus infections were reported, the highest in over 200 days, taking India’s caseload to 3,51,09,286, the data stated.
The death toll climbed to 4,82,876 with 325 fatalities, it said.- PTI
Third wave has hit us but situation under control, says Jain
Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday termed the current surge in COVID-19 cases in the country the “third wave”.
“This is the fifth wave to hit Delhi and the third for the entire country. For the time being, the situation in Delhi is under control. In city hospitals there are plenty of beds available. For example, GTB Hospital has 650 beds set aside for COVID patients, of which only 20 are occupied. The occupancy rate is 2% to 5%,” he said.
Odisha announces closure of schools from Jan. 7 to Feb. 1
The Odisha government on Wednesday announced closure of schools up to Standard XII after the daily COVID-19 cases jumped by 78.82% in 24 hours.
As per the new guidelines, which would remain in force from January 7 to February 1, all schools and colleges up to XII would be closed.
Ensure COVID duty of resident docs don’t exceed 8 hours, IMA urges, Centre, States
The Indian Medical Association on Wednesday requested the Centre and states to ensure that Covid duty of resident doctors do not exceed eight hours a day and after a week there should be a quarantine 10 to 14 day quarantine period in accommodation prescribed by the hospital.
In the event of a Covid duty doctor falling ill, they should be hospitalised at the earliest. In a statement, the doctors’ body said in case of untimely death, the status of Covid martyr and compensation as well as case-wise assistance should be arranged.
There should also be a provision for taking care of the mental health of doctors, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said.- PTI
‘Govt. to ask DMs to identify buildings for COVID facilities’
Anticipating a further spike in COVID-19 cases, the Delhi government has moved a proposal to instruct all 11 District Magistrates (DM) in the city to identify schools and other buildings in their areas which can be converted into COVID Health Care Centres (CHCCs), a government official told The Hindu.
“The government has initiated a proposal for this and is expected to issue an order in a day. Each DM will be asked to start these facilities with 50 beds first, with an option to increase the numbers in future,” the official said. These centres will be linked to different hospitals in the city.
U.K. lifts pre-arrival COVID test rule for overseas travellers
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday that compulsory COVID-19 tests required by overseas travellers no earlier than 48 hours before arriving in England will be scrapped from Friday morning.
Addressing the year’s first Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) session in the House of Commons, Johnson said the government is also lifting the requirement for international travellers, including those flying from India, to self-isolate on arrival in England until receiving a negative PCR test result. Instead, people can take a cheaper lateral flow test on day two of their entry into the UK.
“When the Omicron variant was first identified, we rightly introduced travel restrictions to slow its arrival in our country; but now Omicron is so prevalent, these measures are having limited impact on the growth in cases, while continuing to pose significant costs on our travel industry,” Mr. Johnson said in his COVID-19 update to Parliament.
“So I can announce that in England from 4am on Friday we will be scrapping the pre-departure test, which discourages many from travelling for fear of being trapped overseas and incurring significant extra expense,” he said.- PTI
COVID antiviral drug Molnupiravir has major safety concerns: ICMR chief
ICMR Chief Dr Balram Bhargava said on Wednesday that Covid antiviral drug Molnupiravir has major safety concerns and has not been included in the national protocol for treatment of coronavirus.
During a press briefing, he said the World Health Organisation and the UK have not included it for treatment.
“We have to remember that this drug has major safety concerns. It can cause teratogenicity, mutagenicity and it can also cause cartilage damage and can also be damaging to muscles also. Contraception will have to be done for three months for male and female if this drug is given because the child born could be problematic due to teratogenic influence,” he told reporters.- PTI
No paracetamol, painkillers needed after Covaxin jab: Bharat Biotech
Covaxin maker Bharat Biotech on Wednesday said no paracetamol or painkillers are recommended for those taking the vaccine.
“We have received feedback that certain immunisation centres are recommending three paracetamol 500 mg tablets along with Covaxin for children. No paracetamol or painkillers are recommended after being vaccinated with Covaxin,” Bharat Biotech said in a tweet.
Pfizer/BioNTech to develop mRNA-based shingles shot
Germany’s BioNTech and US pharma giant Pfizer, which together developed a Covid-19 vaccine in record time, said Wednesday they are working on a shingles shot using the same mRNA technology.
Moderna meanwhile announced it had dosed its first volunteer for a vaccine against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), the cause of mononucleosis.
The three companies are leveraging the same mRNA technology they used to develop highly successful Covid-19 vaccines towards other diseases, in a potential breakthrough moment for modern medicine.
Pfizer and BioNTech signed a partnership deal and are aiming for clinical trials to start in the second half of 2022, they said in a joint statement.- AFP
Congress puts off marathon races, rallies by two weeks in Uttar Pradesh
The Congress on Wednesday announced that it would not hold any of the marathon races scheduled for this week and postpone all large gatherings and public rallies by two weeks in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh in the wake of rising COVID cases.
Sources said a decision will soon be taken by Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) in other poll-bound States like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur after assessing the COVID situation.
VP Naidu calls upon people, govt to reach out to people to remove vaccine hesitancy
Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday called upon public-minded individuals, social advocacy groups, medical professionals and the government to reach out to people to remove vaccine hesitancy that may be stopping India in its collective fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also urged parents to get their children in the age group of 15 to 18 years vaccinated at the earliest.
In a video message for an international health summit, Naidu called for a sense of urgency in dealing with the new surge in Covid cases and to apply the lessons of the past waves of the pandemic.
“We must consider it our ‘dharma’ and ‘kartavya’ (duty) to follow the Covid protocol at all times -– wearing a mask, maintaining physical distancing and getting vaccinated, and secure ourselves and our community,” he said.- PTI
Hong Kong bars flights from India, seven other countries over Omicron fears
Hong Kong on Wednesday barred flights from India and seven other nations for two weeks, part of a raft of new measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant.
While most of Hong Kong’s 114 reported Omicron cases have been imported, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) is currently battling its first local spread in many months.
West Bengal cancels events as COVID-19 cases continue to rise
West Bengal on Wednesday swiftly got into the cancellation mode, calling off several events scheduled this month, in an acknowledgement that a possible third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is setting in.
The Kolkata International Film Festival, scheduled to be held between January 7 and 14, was “deferred” and a bunch of popular music festivals, including the Dover Lane Music Conference, also stood cancelled. Organisers of the Kolkata Book Fair, scheduled to begin on January 31, are waiting for instructions from the State Government.
(With inputs from Agencies)
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