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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Coronavirus India highlights: Over 14.8 crore Covid-19 tests conducted so far, says Health Ministry

Coronavirus (Covid-19) India Live News Updates: India’s daily Covid-19 count fell steeply on Monday, with fresh cases dipping to 26,567. This is the lowest count since July 10. The relatively low count a result of less testing on Sunday.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: December 9, 2020 8:42:12 am
At a testing centre in New Delhi. (File)

The Union Health Ministry stated Tuesday that India has conducted over 14.8 crore tests so far and that the cumulative positivity rate has come down to 6.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, on Tuesday became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot outside of a trial as Britain began vaccinating its population. An early riser, Keenan received the vaccine at her local hospital in Coventry, central England, on Tuesday morning at 0631 GMT, a week before she turns 91. Britain began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday, the first Western country to start vaccinating its general population in what was hailed as a decisive watershed in defeating the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, India will carry out the largest vaccination drive in its history over the course of next year. Top government sources told The Indian Express that the guidelines on administration of the vaccine are based on the crucial question of the likelihood of an adverse event being reported after each dose. Sources said that since each vaccination will take at least 30 minutes, only 100 shots will be administered in each session. Both government and private healthcare facilities will be roped in to conduct the first round of immunisations for frontline healthcare workers.

India’s daily Covid-19 count fell steeply on Monday, with fresh cases dipping to 26,567. This is the lowest count since July 10. The relatively low count a result of less testing on Sunday. So far more than 97 lakh people have been infected, with 3.83 lakh active infections and 91.78 lakh recoveries. With 385 deaths, the toll now stands at 1,40,958. There is some positive news from Delhi as well, which has recorded 1,674 new cases on Monday — the lowest since the end of August.

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26,567 new cases reported — lowest since July; Serum Institute, Bharat Biotech seek emergency use authorization for their vaccine candidate; Follow this space for the latest updates on Covid-19.

20:23 (IST)08 Dec 2020
20 more die of Covid in Rajasthan, 1,604 more infected

A total of 20 more people died of Covid-19 in Rajasthan on Tuesday, taking the pandemic death toll in the state to 2,468, a Health Department bulletin said. The state also reported 1,604 new cases on the day, taking the total number of coronavirus-infected people to 2,84,116 in the state with 20,875 of them still undergoing treatment.

As per the bulletin, 2,60,773 people have been discharged after treatment till date. In Jaipur, the death toll from the coronavirus infection is 463 till date, followed by 257 in Jodhpur, 202 in Ajmer, 164 in Bikaner, 151 in Kota, 115 in Bharatpur, 105 in Udaipur and 97 in Pali.

Rajasthan on Tuesday reported 1,604 new cases, including 465 from Jaipur, 187 from Jodhpur, 140 from Ajmer, 134 from Udaipur, 81 from Bharatpur, 66 from Kota, with other cases reported from other districts of the state.

20:03 (IST)08 Dec 2020
WATCH: Coronavirus on December 08, India records 26,567 new cases

19:53 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine offers strong protection after first dose

The coronavirus vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech provides strong protection against COVID-19 within about 10 days of the first dose, according to documents published Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration before a meeting of its vaccine advisory group.

The finding is one of several significant new results featured in the briefing materials, which span 53 pages of data analyses from the agency and from Pfizer. Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their two-dose vaccine had an efficacy rate of 95% after two doses administered three weeks apart. The new analyses show that the protection starts kicking in far earlier. READ MORE

19:00 (IST)08 Dec 2020
3 Covid-19 vaccine candidates under active consideration of drug regulator: Health Ministry

Three Covid-19 vaccines candidates, developed by Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute of India and Pfizer, are under active consideration of India's drug regulator and there is hope that early licensure is possible for all or any of them, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.

Over the last four days, the Indian arm of US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, Pune-based Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech have applied to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) seeking emergency use authorisation for their potential COVID-19 vaccines. 

At a press briefing, NITI Aayog member (Health) V K Paul said the COVID-19 situation in India has stabilised with active cases showing a "clear-cut declining trend" even though the pandemic situation in many other countries is becoming quite serious. The concern and anxiety that arose following an increase in daily cases of infection in Delhi has also settled now, he said. (PTI)

18:56 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Jammu and Kashmir records 470 cases, 6 deaths

Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday recorded 470 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths due to the disease, taking the infection tally to 1,14,038 and the death toll to 1,761, officials said. Out of the fresh cases, 277 are from Jammu division and 193 from Kashmir division, they said.

The officials said Jammu district recorded the highest number of 161 cases, followed by 74 in Srinagar district. The number of active cases dropped to 4,995 in the union territory as 524 patients recovered from the infection. As many as 1,07,282 patients have recovered from the disease so far, the officials said.

The Union Territory reported six COVID-19 deaths in the last 24 hours -- three each from Jammu and Kashmir regions.

18:53 (IST)08 Dec 2020
632 new COVID-19 cases, 12 deaths in Uttarakhand

Uttarakhand''s COVID-19 tally rose to 79,141 on Tuesday after the detection of 632 fresh cases, while 12 more patients succumbed to the disease, taking the death toll to 1,307, according to a state health department bulletin.

Dehradun district recorded a maximum of 279 fresh novel coronavirus cases, followed by Nainital 92, Haridwar 54, Pithoragarh 44, Tehri 30, Udham Singh Nagar 27, Almora 22, Uttarkashi 18, Chamoli 17, Pauri 15, Bageshwar 14, Champawat 11 and Rudraprayag 9, the bulletin said.

A total of 71,541 patients have recovered from the infection in Uttarakhand, 894 have migrated out of the state and 5,399 are under treatment, it said.

18:39 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Odisha reports 349 new COVID-19 cases, 6 more deaths

Odisha reported 349 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, taking the tally to 3,21,913, a Health Department official said. Six more deaths raised the state's toll to 1,784, he said. Of the new cases, 198 were reported from different quarantine centres.

Sundergarh district recorded the highest 46 new cases, followed by Khurda (44) and Angul (26). While two deaths were reported from the Puri district, one patient each died in Jharsuguda, Khurda, Sambalpur and Sundergarh. There are 3,629 active cases in the state at present, while 3,16,447 patients have so far recovered.

The state has altogether tested 62.14 lakh samples for COVID-19, including 32,184 on Monday. Odisha's positivity rate is 5.18 per cent, as per data released by the Health Department.

18:32 (IST)08 Dec 2020
23 Covid-19 deaths in Uttar Pradesh; toll up to 7,967

With 23 COVID-19 fatalities reported in Uttar Pradesh, the death toll due to the viral disease rose to 7,967 while 1,824 fresh cases raised the caseload in the state to 5,58,173, official data showed. In a statement issued here on Tuesday, the state government said out of the 23 fresh deaths, state capital Lucknow reported four deaths, followed by two deaths each in Kanpur, Varanasi, Shahjahanpur and Basti.

Among the fresh cases, Lucknow topped the chart with 233 cases followed by 187 in Ghaziabad, 148 in Meerut, 126 in Varanasi and 114 in Gautam Buddh Nagar, the statement said. In the past 24 hours, as many as 2,111 COVID-19 patients have recovered from the disease, and have been discharged. Till now, 5,28,832 COVID-19 patients have been discharged in the state.

The count of active cases in the state stands at 21,374. In the last 24 hours, over 1.67 lakh samples have been tested in the state.

18:17 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Five states contributed 54% of total caseload: Health Ministry

In edits press briefing, the Union Health Ministry stated Tuesday that Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Delhi contributed 54 pc of total active COVID-19 cases in India. 

It also stated that there has been a steady decline in new COVID-19 cases in India since mid-Sept though infections rising in several other countries.

17:58 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Andhra Pradesh logs 551 fresh COVID-19 cases, aggregate touches 8.72 lakh

Continuing the declining trend, Andhra Pradesh reported 551 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, pushing the gross positives to 8.72 lakh. The latest bulletin said 744 patients had recovered in 24 hours ending 9 am on Tuesday, making it a total of 8,60,368 so far.

The state reported four fresh Covid-19 deaths in a day, taking the total to 7,042. The number of active cases fell further to 5,429. Only Krishna district continued to report a higher daily caseload as 108 fresh cases were added in 24 hours.

The four other hotspot districts of Chittoor, East Godavari, Guntur and West Godavari, added between 50 and 100 each. The eight remaining districts reported below 50 new cases each, with Kurnool (3) and Anantapuramu (8) logging only a single digit score.

In fact, Kurnool now has only 79 active cases, the lowest in the state and going by the trend it may soon be fully rid of the pandemic, health department authorities say.

17:32 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Nations must address barriers against access to affordable medicines, new technologies: India at UN

India has underlined the need for the global community to chart out long-term strategies and roadmaps to deal with future pandemics and their impacts, emphasising that barriers to equitable access to affordable medicines and new technologies must be addressed.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly session on ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy’, Counsellor in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Pratik Mathur said on Monday the international community needed to capitalise on existing programmes such as the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACTA), and COVAX facility to ensure affordable and equitable global access to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, while strengthening health systems.

“We need to come up with long term strategies and roadmaps to put in place a system to deal with the future pandemics,” he said. READ MORE

16:27 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Officer unions demand to include bankers as frontline COVID warriors for vaccination

All four bank officers' unions have demanded for inclusion of bankers as frontline COVID warriors so that they can be administered the vaccine on a priority basis given their importance in keeping wheels of the economy running. In a letter written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, unions said the government is expecting at least two vaccines against COVID-19, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Oxford's Covishield, to be available possibly in January 2021; and there is a plan to inoculate the frontline COVID warriors including those working in healthcare, police, sanitary workers, etc.

All India Bank Officers' Confederation (AIBOC), All India Bank Officers' Association (AIBOA), Indian National Bank Officers' Congress (INBOC) and National Organisation of Bank Officers (NOBO) have jointly written the letter to the finance minister. Bankers have been providing yeoman service ever since the announcement of lockdown and have continued to provide required banking services, it said, adding bankers have been instrumental in keeping the wheels of the economy moving despite hazards and constraints.

Despite thousands of bankers having contracted the disease and a huge number of fatalities in the sector caused by the contagion, uninterrupted banking services are being provided by the workforce, it said.

15:23 (IST)08 Dec 2020
15 new COVID-19 cases in Andamans; tally rises to 4,773

Andaman and Nicobar Islands COVID-19 tally rose to 4,773 as 15 more people tested positive for the virus, a health department official said on Tuesday. Of the 15 fresh cases, four were detected during contact tracing, while 11 have travel history, he said.

Seven more persons were cured of the disease on Tuesday, taking the total number of recoveries in the archipelago to 4,631, the official said. The Union Territory now has 81 active cases, while 61 people have so far died due to the infection, he said.

The Andaman and Nicobar administration has conducted 1,40,961 sample tests for COVID-19 so far, he added.

15:19 (IST)08 Dec 2020
42 new COVID-19 cases added in Pondycherry, tally touches 37,311

Forty two more people tested positive for coronavirus in Puducherry on Tuesday taking the total caseload to 37,311, a top official of the Department of Health and Family Welfare said. However, no fresh fatality was reported from any of the four regions of Puducherry, Karaikal, Mahe and Yanam. Director of Health and Family Welfare S Mohan Kumar said in a release that the fatalities remained 615 as no deaths were reported in the last 24 hours. The 42 new cases were identified at the end of examination of 2,883 samples, he said.

The overall infections in Puducherry rose to 37,311 with the addition of new cases. While 388 cases were active, the total number of patients cured and were discharged were 36,308, he said. Forty five patients were discharged during last twenty four hours. The fatality and recovery rates were 1.65 percent and 97.31 percent respectively.

As many as 4.22 lakh samples were tested so far and it was found that 3.81 lakh out of them came out negative, the Director said. Puducherry region accounted for 11 new cases out of the total 42 fresh cases followed by two in Karaikal, three in Yanam and 26 in Mahe region.

14:14 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Germany may need tougher COVID-19 curbs before Christmas, minister says

Germany might tighten restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Health Minister Jens Spahn said, as a partial lockdown and social distancing rules in place since the start of November have slowed, but not stopped the disease spreading. Chancellor Angela Merkel told party colleagues on Monday that existing lockdown measures in place would not be sufficient to get the European Union's most populous country through the winter, participants at the meeting said. "A short and comprehensive approach to really make a difference is probably more successful," Spahn told public broadcaster Phoenix, according to comments distributed late on Monday. "If we don't get there within the next one or two weeks until Christmas, we have to discuss it," he added.

13:20 (IST)08 Dec 2020
British grandma is first in world to get Pfizer vaccine outside trial

Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old grandmother, on Tuesday became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine shot outside of a trial as Britain began vaccinating its population. An early riser, Keenan received the vaccine at her local hospital in Coventry, central England, on Tuesday morning at 0631 GMT, a week before she turns 91. Britain began rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech on Tuesday, the first Western country to start vaccinating its general population in what was hailed as a decisive watershed in defeating the coronavirus. "I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19," said Keenan.

90 year old Margaret Keenan, the first patient in the UK to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, administered by nurse May Parsons at University Hospital, Coventry, England. (Jacob King/Pool via AP)
11:56 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Trump to order priority access to vaccines for Americans

President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to ensure that priority access for COVID-19 vaccines procured by the U.S. government is given to the American people before assisting other nations, senior administration officials said on Monday.

The Trump administration is confident it will have enough vaccine to inoculate everyone who wants a vaccine by the end of the second quarter of 2021, one official said, disputing a New York Times story that the government declined when Pfizer Inc offered in late summer to sell more vaccine doses to the United States. The White House is holding a summit on Tuesday to explain plans for vaccine distribution through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which has been organising the effort. Trump and other officials will speak.

11:08 (IST)08 Dec 2020
87-year-old Indian-origin man first to get Covid-19 vaccine in UK

An 87-year-old Indian-origin man from the north east of England will become one of the first people in the world to get a vaccine against COVID-19 when he receives his Pfizer/BioNTech jab at a hospital in Newcastle on Tuesday.

Hari Shukla from Tyne and Wear said he feels it is his duty to receive his first of the two-dose vaccine, a moment UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed as a "huge step forward" as Tuesday was dubbed "V-Day" or Vaccine Day in the UK. "I'm so pleased we are hopefully coming towards the end of this pandemic and I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine, I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can to help," said Shukla.

10:29 (IST)08 Dec 2020
Hong Kong returns to tightest COVID-19 restrictions as cases spike

Hong Kong is implementing some of its strictest social distancing measures since the pandemic began, cutting off in-person dining at restaurants from 6 p.m. and closing gyms and beauty salons, amid a growing surge in cases. “We have no choice,” Chief Executive Carrie Lam said as she announced the dining restrictions at a weekly press briefing Tuesday. She did not say when the new restrictions would take effect. “We all need to be mentally prepared about more measures to be rolled out.”

10:08 (IST)08 Dec 2020
South Korea to buy millions of coronavirus vaccine doses but sees no need to hurry

South Korea said on Tuesday it had signed deals to provide coronavirus vaccines for 44 million people next year but it would not hurry inoculation to allow more time to observe potential side effects. Its cautious approach comes as the country battles surging coronavirus cases that health authorities say threaten to overwhelm the medical system.

The South Korean government has arranged to buy 20 million doses each from AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer Inc, and Moderna Inc, and another 4 million doses from Johnson & Johnson's Janssen, enough to cover up to 34 million people, Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a briefing. Additional doses for 10 million people would be procured through the World Health Organization's global vaccine project, known as COVAX, he added.

Shipments of the vaccine would begin no later than March, but authorities would observe how the vaccines worked in other countries for several months to ensure safety. Widespread vaccination was likely to begin in the second half of next year.

South Korea reported 594 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Monday, bringing the country's total to 38,755, with 552 deaths.

Active Covid-19 cases in Delhi drop by 31% in 10 days, Kejriwal says third wave weakening Covid testing at Anand Vihar Metro station. (Express photo by Amit Mehra)

Pfizer India Saturday requested an emergency use authorization for its Covid-19 vaccine in India, becoming the first pharmaceutical company to do so. The move comes after Pfizer's parent company received such a clearance in the UK and Bahrain. In its application submitted to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), it has asked permission to import the Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 mRNA vaccine for sale and distribution in the country.

Currently, India has five vaccines in advance phases of clinical trials with the Serum Institute of India conducting phase-3 trials of the Oxford-Astrazeneca and Bharat Biotech in collaboration with ICMR conducting trials for its indigenously developed vaccine candidate Covaxin.

Meanwhile, a plea was filed on Saturday in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to ensure refund of "exorbitant" amounts charged by private labs and hospitals for conducting RT-PCR tests to detect COVID-19.


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