Addressing the annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that the government has taken several measures to support the economy but no amount of intervention will be adequate to deal with the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Sitharaman said that while in early 2020 green shoots and revival signs of the economy were visible, it was upset with the pandemic setting in.
With 24,000 new cases, the coronavirus tally in India now stands at 99.56 lakh. As many as 355 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours taking the tally to 1.4 lakh. Of the 99.56 lakh cases, active cases have dropped to 3.22 lakh. Kerala reported over 6,000 cases after two weeks. India’s COVID-19 recovery rate is amongst the highest in the world, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday, underlining that countries like the US, Brazil, Russia, and Italy are reporting lesser recovery rates.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to test positive for COVID-19, joining a growing list of others just as inoculation drives against the illness are beginning in a number of countries. Macron, 42, has repeatedly said he is sticking to strict sanitary protocols during the pandemic, including not shaking hands, wearing a mask and keeping distance from other people. The Elysee Palace announced on Thursday that Macron would be isolating for seven days.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
China says ready to cooperate with WHO to advance global coronavirus tracing efforts
China, which questions the view that COVID-19 emerged from Wuhan, on Thursday said it is ready to enhance its cooperation with the WHO to advance the global efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus, as a team of experts of the UN health agency prepares to visit the central Chinese city.
The 10-member team will travel to Wuhan next month to investigate the origins of COVID-19, the BBC quoted the World Health Organization (WHO) as saying. Asked to confirm the team’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a media briefing that the “WHO has also updated China on the global efforts to trace the origin of the coronavirus”.
“China stands ready to enhance its cooperation with the WHO to advance the global tracing efforts to contribute our share in the early victory over the pandemic,” he said.
AIIMS unable to find required no. of volunteers for phase-3 trial of Bharat Biotech’s COVID vaccine
The AIIMS here is unable to find the required number of volunteers for the phase-3 trial of Bharat Biotech’s COVID-19 vaccine, with officials saying people are unwilling to participate in the exercise thinking why take part in a trial when a vaccine would be available soon for everybody.
The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in the national capital is one of the sites conducting the final phase of the trial of the vaccine, “Covaxin”, and it needs around 1,500 volunteers for the purpose. Covaxin has been indigenously developed by Bharat Biotech, in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
“We wanted 1,500-2,000 participants but so far, we have been able to recruit only around 200 participants. People are unwilling to participate in the exercise thinking why take part in a trial when a vaccine would be available soon for everyone,” Dr Sanjay Rai, professor in the department of community medicine at the AIIMS and also the principal investigator of the study, said.
India’s COVID-19 recovery rate is amongst the highest in the world, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday, underlining that countries like the US, Brazil, Russia, and Italy are reporting lesser recovery rates. With focussed strategy and proactive as well as calibrated measures of the Centre along with the States and UTs, India has sustained a very high COVID-19 recovery rate along with rapidly declining active cases and low mortality rate, it said.
“While the global figure for recovery rate is 70.27 per cent, India is recording 95.31 per cent.The USA, Brazil, Russia, and Italy are reporting lesser recovery rates,” the ministry said.
Recoveries outnumbering new cases on a daily basis have ensured a high recovery rate among patients. The total recovered cases are nearing 95 lakh. “The gap between recoveries and active cases is also increasing consistently and presently stands at 91,67,374,” the ministry said.
The rising recoveries have also led to a continuous contraction of India’s active caseload which presently stands at 3,22,366 and consists of just 3.24 per cent of India’s total infections.
3 crore Maharashtra people can get COVID-19 vaccine in 1st round: Tope
Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope on Thursday said that if the Centre gives its nod by the end of this month to carry out COVID-19 vaccination at mass level, then around three crore people could be given the vaccine in the state in the first round. He made the statement while speaking to reporters.
Tope also urged the Centre to carry out free COVID-19 vaccination in the country. “If the Centre gives permission for mass vaccination by December end, then Maharashtra can carry out the process at the mass level from January. Our preparation is going on, wherein around three crore people can be administered the vaccine,” he said.
PM Modi wishes French President speedy recovery after he tests Covid positive
French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the presidential Elysee Palace announced on Thursday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday wished a speedy recovery to French President Emmanuel Macron, who has tested positive for COVID-19. “Wishing my dear friend @EmmanuelMacron a speedy recovery and the best of health,” Modi tweeted.
Wishing my dear friend @EmmanuelMacron a speedy recovery and the best of health.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 17, 2020
“The President of the Republic has been diagnosed positive for COVID-19 today,” Macron’s office said in a statement. “This diagnosis was made following a PCR test performed at the onset of the first symptoms.”
The president took a test as soon as the first symptoms appeared, AP reported. Macron will remain isolated for the next seven days. He will continue to work and take care of his activities at a distance, the statement added.
(With inputs from PTI)