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Coronavirus Highlights: Genome sequencing for all symptomatic Covid positive passengers who arrived in India during Dec 9-22, says govt

Coronavirus India Highlights: India reported 16,432 new Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours ending 8 am Tuesday, taking the country’s tally to 1,02,24,303. This is the lowest increase in daily cases in six months, since June 23.

By: Express Web Desk | Bengaluru, Chennai, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Mumbai, New Delhi, Pune | Updated: December 30, 2020 9:56:44 am
A health worker takes a nasal swab of a person for a COVID-19 test at a hospital in New Delhi, India, on July 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Coronavirus India Highlights: The Health Ministry in its daily briefing on Tuesday said that all international passengers who have arrived in India during last 14 days between 9th and 22nd December, if symptomatic and tested positive will be subjected to genome sequencing, in view of the new COVID-19 strain in the United Kingdom. Six passengers who had arrived in India from the UK have tested positive for the mutant strain of the novel coronavirus on Tuesday. The Union Health Ministry said three patients were in Bengaluru, two in Hyderabad and one in Pune. All the patients are in isolation in private single rooms at state government facilities.

“Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” the government said in a statement. The variant has so far been detected in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri Tuesday said he foresees a slight extension of temporary suspension of passenger flights between India and the UK, where a new variant of the coronavirus has been detected. The Civil Aviation Ministry had last week suspended all flights between that country and India from December 23 to December 31 over the mutated variant of the virus. “I foresee a slight extension of temporary suspension of India-UK flights,” the minister said at a press conference.

India reported 16,432 new Covid-19 cases in the 24 hours ending 8 am Tuesday, taking the country’s tally to 1,02,24,303. This is the lowest increase in daily cases in six months, since June 23. Of the total, only 2.68 lakh are active cases. Over 98 lakh have recovered from the disease. With 252 additional deaths reported on Monday, the death toll now stands at over 1.48 lakh.

On the vaccine front, the regulatory approval for Covishield, the Indian variant of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine, could come in a few days, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, said.

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Country's tally now over 1.02 crore; six cases of mutant Covid-19 strain detected in Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Pune; approval for Covishield could be granted soon, says Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla; Centre extends guidelines for surveillance till January 31. Follow latest news and updates below:

01:21 (IST)30 Dec 2020
5 UK returnees to Haryana test positive for Covid-19, sample sent for genome sequencing

Five people from Haryana who returned to India from the United Kingdom recently have tested positive for Covid-19 and their samples have been sent for genome sequencing to check whether it carries the new mutated strain of coronavirus, an official Tuesday said.

“From the list given to us by the Bureau of Immigration, we followed up on 1,740 people who had returned to the state. Around 800-900 have been tested so far,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Health Department) Rajeev Arora said. Read more

00:27 (IST)30 Dec 2020
Active caseload in Bengal below 13K, recovery rate nears 96%

West Bengal’s active Covid-19 caseload dropped below 13,000 to 12,788 on Tuesday as the recovery rate jumped to 95.92 per cent on a day 1,244 new cases were reported. 

According to the state health bulletin, in which figures are updated till 9 am, 30 people died in 24 hours, pushing up the toll to 9,655. The government said 1,587 patients were discharged, taking the cumulative number of people discharged to 5,25,685.

Among the latest cases, 270 were reported from Kolkata while 315 cases were reported from North 24 Parganas district. Of the 30 deaths, four were reported from Kolkata while nine occurred in North 24 Parganas district.

The government said 37,245 tests were conducted in 24 hours, taking the cumulative number of samples tested to 70,31,066. The test positivity rate dropped to 7.82 per cent. 

00:14 (IST)30 Dec 2020
UP: Deoria jail admin seeks police help to get back 3 convicts released on Covid-19 parole

The Deoria jail administration on Tuesday said it was regularly writing to the district police, seeking their help to catch three convicts who were released along with 15 others earlier this year but have not returned despite the state government discontinuing their parole a month ago. Following a Supreme Court directive to decongest jails amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the state released 2,256 convicts in April and May. Before releasing them, the prisoners submitted an undertaking mentioning details such as their place of stay during the parole.

On November 19, the state government passed an order directing all prisoners to return to their respective jails in three days. Of the 2,256 convicts released, nine died during parole, 179 were released after their jail term ended, and 58 others were jailed in other cases. Only 1,443 have returned to jail, while 567 convicts have yet to return.

21:55 (IST)29 Dec 2020
32 samples of UK returnees to Maharashtra to undergo genomic sequencing at NIV

While the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) has found the UK variant of the coronavirus in one sample – taken from a man from Chennai — state health authorities said that so far, no sample from Maharashtra has tested positive.

A total of 43 persons in the state have tested Covid positive after returning from UK and 32 of the samples have been sent for genomic sequencing to NIV. Results are expected in a day or two, state Surveillance Officer Dr Pradeep Awate told The Indian Express.

The state Health department has traced as many as 3,900 travellers from UK who have returned to India since the new virus was detected. Of these, 366 travellers have completed 28 days from their arrival in India. A total of 2,516 were tested via RT-PCR, of which 43 were found to be Covid positive. Of these, 15 are from Mumbai, seven from Thane, six each from Nagpur and Pune, two each from Nashik, Aurangabad and Buldhana, and one each from Nanded, Raigad and Washim.

20:19 (IST)29 Dec 2020
3,018 new COVID-19 cases in Maharashtra, 69 deaths, 5,572 recoveries

Maharashtra's coronavirus caseload rose to 19,25,066 on Tuesday as it recorded 3,018 new cases, a health official said. With 69 patients dying, the death toll in the state reached 49,373, he said. On the other hand, 5,572 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, taking the tally of recovered persons to 18,20,021. There are now 54,537 active cases in the state. Mumbai city reported 537 new cases during the day, which pushed its case count to 2,92,008, while the death toll in the state capital rose to 11,094 with six new fatalities.

With 56,982 new samples tested, the number of coronavirus tests conducted in Maharashtra went up to 1,26,00,754. (PTI)

19:17 (IST)29 Dec 2020
All schools in Mumbai to remain closed till 15th January: BMC

All schools in Mumbai will remain closed till 15th January, said Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Tuesday, news agency ANI reported.

18:55 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Dry run for COVID-19 vaccination drive successfully conducted in 4 states: Health Ministry

A two-day dry run to assess the readiness of the mechanism laid out for the COVID-19 immunisation drive, which is expected to begin soon, was successfully conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Assam, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The end-to-end exercise was undertaken in Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh, Rajkot and Gandhinagar of Gujarat, Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar of Punjab, and Sonitpur and Nalbari districts of Assam on Monday and Tuesday.

Specific teams were formed for various tasks by the district administrations and activities like uploading of dummy beneficiary data, session site creation, vaccine allocation, communicating vaccination details to beneficiaries and vaccinators, and beneficiary mobilization were carried out, the health ministry said. Field feedback on the first day of dry run was reviewed on December 29 through video conferencing with state and district programme officers by the joint secretary (Public Health).

'All the states expressed satisfaction in terms of operational approach and use of IT platform to ensure transparency and effective monitoring of vaccination processes expected to cover a large number of people across the country. (PTI)

18:14 (IST)29 Dec 2020
No evidence that vaccines will not work against new COVID variant: Government

COVID-19 vaccines will work against new variants of the virus and there is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 mutants reported from the UK or South Africa, the government said on Tuesday. Addressing a press conference, Principal Scientific Advisor K Vijay Raghavan said so far it has not been found that the new variant increases the severity of the disease.

"There is no evidence that current vaccines will fail to protect against COVID 19 variants reported from UK or SA. Most vaccines do target the Spike protein, in which there are changes in the variants but vaccines stimulate our immune system to produce a wide range of protective antibodies," he said.

NITI Aayog member (health) Dr V K Paul said there has been a consistent decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths which is reassuring given the current scenario across the world. "We are consistently showing a decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases, active cases and deaths, which is very reassuring. It stands out particularly during this very period when several nations are facing a devastating situation," Paul said.

17:35 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Hospitals being overwhelmed by new COVID-19 peak: UK health chiefs

The UK is "back in the eye of the storm", the head of the NHS said on Tuesday as the country's health chiefs warned that hospitals were being overwhelmed by a surge in the COVID-19 pandemic, largely driven by a new highly transmissible variant of coronavirus, which has seen clinic admissions surpass the first peak. According to the figures from National Health Service (NHS) England, 20,426 patients were being treated in hospitals on Monday, compared to 18,974 recorded on April 12 during the first peak of the pandemic this year.

The surge is largely driven by a new highly transmissible variant of coronavirus, which had led to most of the country being plunged into complete lockdown earlier this month and also several countries cutting transport links with the UK in an effort to try and curb its rapid transmission. The UK is "back in the eye of the storm," said Sir Simon Stevens, the head of the state-funded NHS. (PTI)

17:02 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Belarus starts COVID-19 vaccinations with Russian shots

Belarus on Tuesday announced the start of mass coronavirus vaccinations with the Russian-developed Sputnik V shot, becoming the second country after Russia to roll out a vaccine that is still undergoing late-stage studies to ensure its safety and effectiveness.  The first batch of Sputnik V arrived in the former Soviet republic on Tuesday, according to a joint statement by the Belarusian Health Ministry, the Russian Health Ministry and the Russian Direct Investment Fund that bankrolled development of the jab.

The health ministry posted pictures of people getting the shots on social media. "A new stage starts in Belarus today with mass vaccinations against COVID-19. Medical staff, teachers, and those who come into contact a lot of people due to their jobs will be the first to get vaccinated. Vaccination will be entirely voluntary," Health Minister of Belarus Dmitry Pinevich was quoted in the statement as saying.

16:29 (IST)29 Dec 2020
63% of total cases were reported in males and 37% cases in females: Health Ministry

"If we analyze COVID-19 cases on basis of gender, 63% of total cases were reported in males and 37% cases in females. Age-wise, 8% cases reported below the age of 17 years, 13% in 18-25 years age group, 39% in 26-44 years group, 26% in 45-60 years group & 14% above 60 years," said Union Health Secretary.

16:25 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Genome sequencing for all symptomatic Covid positive passengers who arrived in India during Dec 9-22: Govt

The Health Ministry in its daily briefing on Tuesday said that all international passengers who have arrived in India during last 14 days between 9th and 22nd December, if symptomatic and tested positive will be subjected to genome sequencing, in view of the new COVID-19 strain in the United Kingdom. 

16:13 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Latest updates on Covid-19 from around the world

  • India records over 16,000 new cases, 252 deaths in past 24 hours; lowest daily rise in more than 6 months
  • India detects six cases of new Covid-19 strain, all were travellers from UK
  • Suspension of India-UK flights may be slightly extended, says Hardeep Singh Puri
  • Delhi prepared to face new COVID strain, says Arvind Kejriwal
  • CAPFs asked to prepare for providing assistance in waste disposal during COVID-19 immunisation
  • China kicks off emergency Covid-19 vaccination in Wuhan
  • South Africa tightens curbs, president bans alcohol sales
  • Iran begins first human trial of locally made vaccine
  • South Korea reports record daily virus death toll of 40
  • Thailand imposes new restrictions amid coronavirus outbreak

15:53 (IST)29 Dec 2020
New coronavirus variant detected in Pakistan

Pakistan on Tuesday confirmed its first case of the new coronavirus variant found in the UK after it identified the strain that spreads at a much faster pace in three samples taken from passengers who had returned from Britain. The health department in Sindh said the samples of 12 returnees were taken for genotyping, out of which six tested positive. "Samples of 3 UK returnees show a 95 per cent match to the new coronavirus variant from the UK in the first phase of genotyping," it said in a tweet.

The health department said that the provincial government was tracing contacts of these patients, and all those who came in contact with them were being isolated. The new variant is considered as 70 per cent more transmissible and has sparked concerns around the world. The development came as Pakistan extended a ban on the UK flights till January 4. The ban was announced on December 21. Several countries have closed their borders with the UK and suspended flights amid growing concerns of an "out of control" new variant of coronavirus spreading at a much faster pace in parts of England. (PTI)

15:34 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Suspension of India-UK flights may be slightly extended, says Hardeep Singh Puri

The temporary suspension of India-UK flights can be slightly extended, said Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday. "I foresee slight extension of temporary suspension of India-UK flights," he was quoted as saying by PTI.

14:47 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Gujarat COVID-19 dry run: 'Beneficiaries' undergo dummy vaccination

Identified 'beneficiaries' are undergoing dummy vaccination at various centres in Gandhinagar and Rajkot districts of Gujarat on the second day of the COVID-19 vaccination dry run on Tuesday, officials said. The two-day end-to-end dry run was being carried out to test the laid out mechanisms for COVID-19 vaccination and to provide insights into any gaps to be addressed before the commencement of the actual vaccination drive.

Gujarat is one of the four states chosen by the Central government to conduct the mock COVID-19 vaccination drive. Health workers are among the first 'beneficiaries' identified for the mock vaccination drive being conducted at four health centres in Gandhinagar city. (PTI)

13:07 (IST)29 Dec 2020
China kicks off emergency Covid-19 vaccination in Wuhan

The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus emerged a year ago before it became a pandemic and upended life across the globe, has started the emergency Covid-19 vaccination on some key groups, a senior health official said on Tuesday, even as China is yet to officially certify its multiple vaccines.

The vaccination, available at 48 designated clinics in 15 districts, began on December 24, targeting certain groups of people aged between 18 and 59 years, He Zhenyu, deputy director of the centre for disease control and prevention in Wuhan, told the media in Wuhan. (Read more here)

10:46 (IST)29 Dec 2020
India detects six cases of new Covid-19 strain, all were travellers from UK

India has detected six cases of the mutant coronavirus that was first discovered in the UK. The Health Ministry Tuesday said the six patients — three in Bengaluru, two in Hyderabad and one in Pune — had recently returned from the UK. The variant has so far been detected in Denmark, Netherlands, Australia, Italy, Sweden, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Lebanon and Singapore.

"All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated Health Care facilities by respective State Governments. Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others. Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on,” the Health Ministry said in a statement.

10:14 (IST)29 Dec 2020
Six UK returnees test positive for new Covid-19 variant in India

India recorded first cases of the new UK Covid-19 variant on Tuesday after six returnees from the United Kingdom tested positive with the variant genome.

09:57 (IST)29 Dec 2020
India records over 16,000 new cases, 252 deaths

India reported 16,432 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours ending 8 Tuesday, taking the country’s total to 1,02,24,303. This is the lowest spike in daily cases since June 23. Of the total cases, active infections further dropped to 2.68 lakh and recoveries surpassed 98 lakh. With 252 deaths reported on Monday, the death toll now stands at over 1.48 lakh.

COVID-19 Test, Coronavirus Test, Nasal swab 209 COVID-19 patients are presently undergoing treatment in Intensive Care Units (ICU) in the State. (Express Photo)

The Covid-19 dummy vaccination drive, aimed at testing India's vaccine delivery system and other logistics will continue today. The dry run, the largest mass immunisation programme in the country's history will be carried out in four states- Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Assam.

3 UK returness among 911 fresh COVID-19 infections in Karnataka

Karnataka on Sunday reported 911 fresh coronavirus infections and 11 deaths taking the total cases and fatalities to 9,16,256 and 12,062 respectively. Three more UK returnees were among those who tested positive, taking their total to 26, the state government said. The total infections comprised 8,91,095 cumulative discharges of them 1,214 on Sunday and 13,080 active cases, including 209 in the intensive care units of various hospitals, a health department bulletin said. More than half of the cases and fatalities of the day in the state were contributed by Bengaluru Urban district which reported 542 infections and eight deaths

Maharashtra: 16 UK returnees test positive for virus since screening began

Sixteen persons who had recently returned from the UK and two family members of such returnees have tested positive for coronavirus in Maharashtra so far, a health official said. "Their samples have been sent to the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune to find out if they are carrying the new strain of the virus that was detected in the UK," he said. Screening of passengers arrived from the UK began after a new variant of the coronavirus was detected in that country. Flights from the UK were barred earlier this week

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