India on Thursday recorded 24,712 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the country’s total caseload to 1,01,23,778 cases, including 1,46,756 deaths and 96.93 lakh recoveries. At 2,83,849, the active caseload remained below 3 lakh for the third consecutive day. Meanwhile, amid fears of a new strain of the novel coronavirus in the United Kingdom, states are tracking down UK returnees. Consequently, passenger flights between India and the UK remain suspended till December 31 or till further orders.
Here are the top Covid-19 developments that you need to know today
Africa CDC: New virus variant appears to emerge in Nigeria
Another new variant of the coronavirus appears to have emerged in Nigeria, Africa’s top public health official said Thursday, but he added that further investigation was needed.
The discovery could add to new alarm in the pandemic after similar variants were announced in Britain and South Africa, leading to the swift return of international travel restrictions and other measures just as the world enters a major holiday season.
“It’s a separate lineage from the UK and South Africa,” the head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, told reporters.
Karnataka withdraws night curfew order
The Karnataka government withdrew its night curfew order, hours before it was scheduled to be implemented. The decision to impose night curfew for nine days from 11 pm to 5 am starting from Thursday was taken on Wednesday in line with the Centre’s advice, amid concerns over the new Covid variant spreading in the UK.
In a statement, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said: “In view of the public opinion that there was no need for night curfew, the decision was reviewed and after consulting with cabinet colleagues and senior officials it has been decided to withdraw the night curfew,” Yediyurappa said.
Coronavirus vaccine to be given to 51 lakh people in first phase in Delhi: CM Kejriwal
Fifty-one lakh people in Delhi — comprising healthcare staff, frontline workers, people with co-morbidities and those aged above 50 — will be administered the Covid-19 vaccine in the first phase, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Addressing a webcast on the rollout of the vaccine in Delhi — expected early next year — Kejriwal said the administration has nearly identified all the 51 lakh citizens, who have been clubbed under the “priority category” for vaccination.
The Delhi government’s plan is in line with the recommendations made by the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration of Covid-19 (NEGVAC). Kejriwal said Delhi has made all arrangements to receive and store vaccine doses.
Missing Covid-19 positive passenger from UK found in Andhra Pradesh
A passenger who disappeared from Delhi airport after testing positive for coronavirus upon her return from the United Kingdom on December 21 has been found in Andhra Pradesh’s Rajahmundry. Health officials received the woman and her son at Rajahmundry railway station and shifted her to the district hospital.
The woman was among five Covid-positive flyers from the UK who went untraceable after landing at the Delhi airport on Tuesday. Three of them were traced by Tuesday night and admitted to Lok Nayak hospital in the capital while one managed to reach Ludhiana and was brought back on Wednesday.
According to the new SOPs issued by the Centre on Tuesday, Covid-positive passengers from the UK must be shifted to a separate isolation unit, and their samples must be sent for genome sequencing.
SpiceJet ties up with GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo for storage, delivery of Covid vaccine
SpiceJet said it has signed an agreement with the GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC) to ensure seamless delivery of the coronavirus vaccine from the Hyderabad airport to domestic and international markets. Hyderabad and its surrounding districts have a number of pharmaceutical companies. The Hyderabad airport, which is managed and operated by the GMR group, is expected to be a key hub in transportation of COVID-19 vaccine domestically and globally.
In a press release, SpiceJet said as part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the GHAC will provide required space at the Hyderabad airport “on priority” for the airline’s vaccine shipments and it will also train the airline’s personnel.
Maharashtra issues fresh circular; asymptomatic passengers won’t be tested on arrival
Passengers arriving from Europe, South Africa and the Middle-East will not be subjected to RT-PCR test for coronavirus immediately upon arrival, the Maharashtra government said in a fresh circular on Thursday. The circular amended the Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) issued for dealing with passengers arriving from these regions on December 21.
Seven-day institutional quarantine has been made mandatory for asymptomatic passengers arriving from Europe, South Africa and the Middle-East. Symptomatic passengers are immediately shifted to designated hospitals. The circular said that no RT-PCR test will be conducted on arrival for asymptomatic passengers.
China to suspend UK flights indefinitely
China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom indefinitely over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus, Wang Wenbin, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Thursday. “After much consideration, China has decided to take reference from other countries and suspend flights to and from UK,” Wang told reporters at a daily briefing.
“China will closely monitor relevant developments and dynamically adjust control measures depending on the situation,” Wang said.
One million Americans vaccinated for Covid-19
More than 1 million Americans have been vaccinated as US political leaders sought to guard against a highly contagious coronavirus variant sweeping across Britain.
The CDC said that as of Wednesday morning more than 1 million people nationwide had been given the first of the two doses required for the two coronavirus vaccines that have been approved.
But most Americans have been told that it could be six months or more before they are eligible for the shots as priority is given to healthcare workers, nursing home residents and in some cases top government officials.
Explained today: Why coronavirus in Antarctica isn’t an Indian worry yet
At least 36 people at a Chilean research station in Antarctica have been found infected with the novel coronavirus. This is the first instance of the virus on the icy, southernmost continent. Chile’s armed forces revealed the cases on Monday, but some of them could have been infected earlier.
Antarctica is uninhabited except for those manning the nearly 60 permanent stations established by several countries, including India, for carrying out scientific research.
As of now, the Indian contingent in Antarctica is not worried about the virus spreading. The two Indian permanent stations, Maitri and Bharati, are at least 5,000 km away from the Chilean base, according to M Ravichandran, director of the Goa-based National Centre for Polar and Ocean Research (NCPOR) which is the nodal agency for India’s scientific expeditions in Antarctica and the Arctic. READ HERE
(Inputs from PTI, AP)
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