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Coronavirus HIGHLIGHTS: Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat tests positive

Coronavirus (Covid-19) India HIGHLIGHTS: 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.

By: Express Web Desk | Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi | Updated: December 19, 2020 9:41:21 am
coronavirus, coronavirus news, coronavirus today news, covid 19 vaccine, coronavirus india, coronavirus india news, corona cases in india, india news, coronavirus news, covid vaccine india, coronavirus vaccine latest news, covid 19 latest news, covid 19 india, corona news, corona latest news, india coronavirus, coronavirus live news, corona cases in india, corona cases in indiaCovid-19 testing at Juhinagar Railway station on Wednesday. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

Coronavirus India HIGHLIGHTS: India reported 22,890 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, taking the total number of infections to 99,79,447. The number has remained below 30,000 for the fifth consecutive day today. Also, with 338 deaths in the last 24 hours, the toll has mounted to 1,44,789. It’s the sixth day in a row that the toll has remained lower than 400.

More than 31,000 people were declared to have recovered on Thursday taking the total number of discharged cases to 95,20,827, while the number of active cases has fallen to 3.13 lakh. 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.

The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states to carry out a fire safety audit of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country. “Dedicated COVID-19 hospitals have to take fire NOC within four weeks failing which states will take punitive action,” the court said.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said 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. Addressing the annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), 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. The government has taken steps for interventions by consulting several chambers of commerce, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took feedback from the industry, she added.

On the vaccine front, the Election Commission (EC) is open to the prospect of offering assistance, if sought by the system, in administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the country’s population next year. Speaking Thursday at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the ongoing pandemic is an unprecedented national crisis that requires “exceptional and extraordinary” response.

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Coronavirus HIGHLIGHTS: India has 99,79,447 cases; Open to idea of aiding vaccine drive if EC help is sought, says CEC; Bharat Biotech’s Covid vaccine produces robust immune response; and more. Follow latest news on coronavirus infections in India and the world below

17:33 (IST)18 Dec 2020
Explained: Implications of the mutated coronavirus in the UK

A mutated variant of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2 has been associated with recent infections in England. The question being raised is whether the mutation could affect people’s response to vaccines — and scientists say this is unlikely. The virus has undergone several mutations since it first infected humans, which scientists say is neither unexpected nor a cause for panic. We explain here

15:20 (IST)18 Dec 2020
Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat tests positive

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat tests positive for Covid-19 on Friday. Taking to Twitter, he said he is stable and asked those who came in contact with him recently to get tested.

13:23 (IST)18 Dec 2020
Karnataka bans New Year parties at public places, govt asks people not to give handshakes and hugs
Church Street in Bengaluru. Earlier, the BBMP had recommended to the government that New Year celebrations be restricted this year. (Express Photo: Darshan Devaiah BP)

In light of Covid-19, the Karnataka government has banned New Year celebrations in clubs, pubs and restaurants. The ban will be in place for four days from December 30 in order to minimise the spread of the disease. However, there are no restrictions on these establishments carrying out normal operations.

In an order issued by Karnataka Chief Secretary T M Vijay Bhaskar Thursday, the government permitted only green crackers during the festivities and urged the public to refrain from giving handshakes and hugs.

“Keeping in mind public health, there is a need to celebrate Christmas and New Year in a simple and meaningful way. In the wake of this, mass parties have been banned across the state at public places, establishments and places where large crowds gather without maintaining social distancing,” the order read.

12:45 (IST)18 Dec 2020
Jharkhand allows schools to reopen for Class 10, 12 from December 21

The Jharkhand government on Thursday gave its nod for reopening of schools outside containment zones for standards 10 and 12 from December 21, besides restarting classes in medical and dental colleges, and nursing institutes. Swimming pools, entertainment parks, processions, sporting events, coaching and all other educational institutions will remain shut, as per the COVID-19 guidelines issued by Chief Secretary Sukhdev Singh.

Class 10 and 12 students would need the permission of their parents to attend schools. Alongside, online classes will also continue. Classes will also restart in medical and dental colleges, and nursing schools from December 21, as per the order.

11:19 (IST)18 Dec 2020
SC directs all states to carry out fire safety audit of dedicated Covid hospitals across country

The Supreme Court on Friday directed all states to carry out a fire safety audit of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals across the country. "Dedicated COVID-19 hospitals have to take fire NOC within four weeks failing which states will take punitive action," the court said.

10:43 (IST)18 Dec 2020
FDA panel endorses Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine
The headquarters of the pharmaceutical firm Moderna in Cambridge, Mass., on Nov. 19, 2020. (File photo: Cody O'Loughlin/The New York Times)

The coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna moved closer to authorization Thursday, a significant step that would expand the reach of the nation’s vaccination campaign to rural areas and many more hospitals.

As the nation buckled from uncontrolled spread of the disease, with 3,611 deaths Wednesday setting yet another horrific record, a panel of independent experts recommended, by a vote of 20 in favor and one abstention, that the Food and Drug Administration authorize the Moderna vaccine for emergency use. The formal decision, expected Friday, would clear the way for some 5.9 million doses to be shipped around the country starting this weekend.

10:01 (IST)18 Dec 2020
Open to idea of aiding vaccine drive if EC help is sought: CEC
The Commission, he said, is already organising interactions between officers in charge of Bihar elections and their counterparts in states going to polls next year to facilitate sharing of experiences and lessons of holding elections in a pandemic.

The Election Commission (EC) is open to the prospect of offering assistance, if sought by the system, in administering the Covid-19 vaccine to the country’s population next year.

Speaking Thursday at the Idea Exchange programme of The Indian Express, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said the ongoing pandemic is an unprecedented national crisis that requires “exceptional and extraordinary” response.

“Currently, we do not have any legal authority (to assist in the administration of the vaccine). To conduct elections, we are empowered under Article 324. But having said that, given the experience and expertise we have, if someone reaches out to us for a national cause, we will take a call,” he said.

09:39 (IST)18 Dec 2020
India reports 22,890 new cases, active cases fall to 3.13 lakh

India reported 22,890 new cases of coronavirus infections on Thursday, taking the total number of infections to 99,79,447. The number has remained below 30,000 for the fifth consecutive day today. Also, with 338 deaths in the last 24 hours, the toll has mounted to 1,44,789. It's the sixth day in a row that the toll has remained lower than 400.

More than 31,000 people were declared to have recovered on Thursday taking the total number of discharged cases to 95,20,827, while the number of active cases has fallen to 3.13 lakh.

21:59 (IST)17 Dec 2020
India recognised COVID threat early, pursued scientific evidence-based approach: Vardhan

COVID-19 cases in India are steadily coming down while the caseload of infection in many parts of the world is experiencing a second or even a third peak, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday asserting the government "recognised the threat early and pursued a scientific evidence-based approach". He made these remarks at a virtual event of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) and UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR).

The theme of the event was "Build Back Better: building resilient health infrastructure and supply chains", a health ministry statement said. Speaking on the COVID trajectory in India, Vardhan said, "It has been almost one year since the outbreak of COVID-19. While the caseload infection in many parts of the world is decreasing, many others are experiencing a second or even a third peak. Fortunately, in India, the cases are steadily coming down. We recognised the threat early and pursued a scientific evidence based approach."

20:52 (IST)17 Dec 2020
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.

19:50 (IST)17 Dec 2020
No amount of govt intervention adequate for pandemic-hit economy: FM

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that the government has taken several of measures to support the economy but no amount of intervention will be adequate to deal with the crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the annual general meeting of the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), 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.

The government has taken steps for interventions by consulting several chambers of commerce, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took feedback from the industry, she said. For instance, the Garib Kalyan Yojana, free cooking gas and direct benefit transfer schemes were announced by the government, Sitharaman said. Three different sets of announcements were made regarding 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', and together with RBI, certain tailormade schemes were unveiled for various sectors on a demand-driven basis, she said. (PTI)

19:17 (IST)17 Dec 2020
No amount of govt intervention adequate for economy to deal with Covid-19 pandemic, says Nirmala Sitharaman

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman Thursday said that no amount of government intervention will be adequate for the economy to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, the government had announced several measures to boost job creation, provide liquidity support to stressed sectors, and to step up investment in housing and infrastructure sectors.

18:18 (IST)17 Dec 2020
TN Governor interacts with people on COVID-19 measures

Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit took the people of Selvapuram here by surprise on Thursday when he alighted from the car and advised them on preventive measures against coronavirus. Purohit, who was here to attend the 41st convocation of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, stopped his convoy after seeing some people moving about or shopping on the main road while going to the university after visiting the Sri Patteeshwaran Temple. He then walked up to the members of the public and asked them to take preventive measure like wearing of masks, washing their hands and maintaining social distancing. (PTI)

17:18 (IST)17 Dec 2020
Quiet year-end in Nainital as tourists stay away due to pandemic

Christmas and New Year's Eve are around the corner but the celebratory mood, sparkling lights that brighten up the markets and swarm of tourists are missing in Nainital as the coronavirus pandemic has kept most people confined to their homes.

According to local hotel and restaurant bodies, the farmers camping at Delhi borders to demand the repeal of the Centre's agriculture reform laws has also deterred people from the national capital and neighbouring areas from travelling. Though both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a Friday this time, making them extended weekends, the business has been slow for hotels in the popular hill station.

"This year, hotels received little to almost no bookings for New Year's due to coronavirus. Similarly, only a few bookings were made for Christmas," said Dinesh Shah, president of Nainital Hotel and Restaurant Association. Normally, people make bookings for Christmas and New Year's months in advance, he said. (PTI)

16:20 (IST)17 Dec 2020
COVID-19 recovery rate in India among highest in the world: Health Ministry

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. (PTI)

15:24 (IST)17 Dec 2020
French President Macron tests positive for Covid-19

French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, the French Presidency said on Thursday.

14:58 (IST)17 Dec 2020
Russia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout draws wary, mixed response

While excitement and enthusiasm greeted the Western-developed coronavirus vaccine when it was rolled out, the Russian-made version has received a mixed response, with reports of empty Moscow clinics that offered the shot to health care workers and teachers the first members of the public designated to receive it. Kremlin officials and state-controlled media touted the Sputnik V vaccine as a major achievement after it was approved August 11. But among Russians, hope that the shot would reverse the course of the COVID-19 crisis has become mixed with wariness and scepticism, reflecting concerns about how it was rushed out while still in its late-stage testing to ensure its effectiveness and safety.

Russia faced international criticism for approving a vaccine that hasn't completed advanced trials among tens of thousands of people, and experts both at home and abroad warned against its wider use until the studies are completed.

Despite those warnings, authorities started offering it to certain high-risk groups, such as front-line medical workers, within weeks of approval. Alexander Gintsburg, head of the Gamaleya Institute that developed the vaccine, said last week over 150,000 Russians have gotten it. (AP)

14:25 (IST)17 Dec 2020
'We are not afraid': Wuhan residents say they hope WHO team finds virus origins

With investigators from the World Health Organization (WHO) set to visit China next year, residents of Wuhan are saying they want the team to come to the central city, hoping they could prove the virus did not originate there. An international team of investigators is expected to travel to China in January, the WHO said on Thursday, more than a year after the first identified cluster of COVID-19 infections was linked to the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan. "I welcome them to come. We also want to know how it developed, specifically where it came from, if the source of the virus is here," said a Wuhan resident surnamed Wan, as he walked to work on Thursday morning. "My feeling is that it is not from there," he added, referring to the seafood market. The WHO did not confirm whether its team will go to Wuhan, saying that discussions on the itinerary were ongoing. A two-member WHO team visited China in July, but did not visit Wuhan.

14:02 (IST)17 Dec 2020
How pandemic has impacted Christmas traditions globally

Partial lockdowns, travel restrictions and social distancing norms have surely dampened the holiday spirit as people are gearing up to celebrate Christmas amid the coronavirus pandemic. While some Christmas traditions and festivities have been toned down, others have been altered to reflect the pandemic. READ MORE

12:24 (IST)17 Dec 2020
Mike Pence to get vaccine shot on Friday; Joe Biden next week

Vice President Mike Pence will publicly receive the coronavirus vaccine on Friday, and President-elect Joe Biden is expected get vaccinated as soon as next week, amid concern that many Americans may refuse the injection.

Pence will get the shot during a White House event to “build confidence among the American people,” his office said in a statement. Second lady Karen Pence and Surgeon General Jerome Adams are expected to receive the vaccine along with the vice president.

Biden’s plan, which was confirmed by a transition official, comes after he pledged to get the vaccine in public to allay any fears about the shots.

A man wearing a face mask as a precaution against the coronavirus carries a baby without a mask on a street open only to pedestrians during weekends in Bengaluru. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

Continuing the trend of contraction of coronavirus cases, India’s COVID-19 active caseload now stands at 3,32,002 comprising 3.34 per cent of the total number of infections reported in the country, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday. A total 26,382 people were found to be infected with COVID-19 in India in a single day, as per the Health ministry’s latest data update on Wednesday. During the same period, the country also registered 33,813 new recoveries ensuring a net decline of 7,818 cases in the active caseload.

“India has recorded less than 40,000 daily new cases since the last 17 days,” the ministry underlined. The figure of new cases per million population in India in the last seven days — 147 — is one of the lowest in the world, it said.

Out of the total cases, over 3.32 lakh cases are active while over 94.56 lakh people have recovered. With 387 new fatalities, the death toll now stands at 1,44,096. Daily deaths have remained below 400 for the fourth consecutive day. Kerala was the only state to report more than 5,000 cases on Tuesday. Underlining the potential challenges of serious adverse reactions that could be triggered by Covid-19 vaccines during the largest adult immunisation drive expected next year, the central government on Tuesday said it has directed all states to identify at least one health centre in each block level that would be linked to the vaccination centre for management of such adverse events.

During the weekly briefing on the pandemic, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan reiterated that the time-line for vaccination will not be impacted in the backdrop of the drug regulator currently examining applications of the three vaccine manufacturers who have sought emergency use authorisation of their vaccines.

Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, emphasised that the additional mechanism on adverse event reporting is being implemented, keeping in view the unique challenge of vaccinating a large adult population, most of who will have associated comorbidities.

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