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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Coronavirus India HIGHLIGHTS: Five districts in Karnataka selected for vaccine dry run; Kerala to partially reopen schools from Jan 1

With 21,822 new cases of coronavirus infections detected on Wednesday, the tally now stands at one crore and 2.66 lakh. As many as 299 deaths were reported on Wednesday.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: January 5, 2021 10:26:23 am
Many people who can’t smell will lose their appetites, putting them at risk of nutritional deficits and unintended weight loss.

On new year’s eve, administrations in three metro cities — Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai — and several other states including Punjab, Kerala, Gujarat, and Odisha have announced night curfews in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

With 21,822 new cases of coronavirus infections detected on Wednesday, the tally now stands at one crore and 2.66 lakh. As many as 299 deaths were reported on Wednesday. While 26,000 were declared as recovered, there are 2.57 lakh active infections. Kerala has reported 6,268 new cases, while Maharashtra detected 3,537 new infections.

The Union Health Ministry has asked all states to keep a strict vigil on New Year celebrations that could be potential Covid-19 super-spreader events and also to curb crowding as a precautionary measure during the winter season, PTI reported. In a letter to states and Union Territories, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan stated that the number of active Covid-19 cases has been declining steadily in the country for the last three-and-half months.

Passenger flights between the UK and India would remain suspended till January 7 and they will resume in a “strictly regulated” manner thereafter, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Wednesday. The Civil Aviation Ministry had last week suspended all flights between the European country and India from December 23 to December 31 as a mutated variant of the coronavirus was detected there. India has recorded 14 fresh cases of new coronavirus mutant strain first reported in the United Kingdom in September, taking the total number of cases to 20, news agency PTI reported. The tally includes six people who were found positive for the new virus strain on Tuesday.

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UK govt approves Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine; Indian govt extends ban on UK-India flights till Jan 7; India reports 14 more cases of new UK coronavirus strain; 21,822 new cases; 299 deaths in India. Read highlights

21:06 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Five districts in Karnataka selected for dry run

Five districts in Karnataka have been selected for dry run of Covid-19 vaccine trial on January 2. The districts are Bengaluru (Urban), Belagavi, Kalaburagi, Mysuru and Shivamogga. (ANI)

20:46 (IST)31 Dec 2020
No mutated coronavirus strain found in UK returnees : Odisha govt

Odisha government Thursday said that no mutated strain of coronavirus was found in any of the returnees from the United Kingdom or their immediate contacts, an official said.

A total swab samples of six returnees were sent to Pune and Delhi for genome sequencing and no report confirmed the existence of the UK strain, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare P K Mohapatra.

A total of 188 people have returned to Odisha from the UK, of whom 179 have been traced by the State Health & Family Welfare Department. Seven of them have so far tested positive for Covid-19, he said.

Of the detected seven coronavirus positive cases, four had come from the UK and the rest had come in contact with them, the additional chief secretary said. (PTI)

20:38 (IST)31 Dec 2020
UP: 971 people test positive for infection, 12 new casualties

Uttar Pradesh on Thursday reported 971 new cases of coronavirus infection, taking the contamination tally to 5,85,902 even as 12 people died of Covid-19 raising the death toll due to the disease to 8,364.

The number of active cases stood at 14,260 in the state with 6,337 recuperating in home isolation and 1,275 getting treatment in private hospitals, Additional Chief Secretary Health Amit Mohan Prasad said.

A total of 5,63,278 people have recovered and have been discharged from hospitals till now, he said, putting the recovery rate at 96.13 per cent. The fatality rate due to the contagion in the state is 1.43 per cent at present, he said.

On Wednesday, over 1.49 lakh samples were tested taking the total tests done so far to over 2.39 crores. (PTI)

20:34 (IST)31 Dec 2020
TN govt hospital successfully treats Covid-19 patients with over 70 per cent lung involvement

Three Covid-19 patients, two of them with lung involvement between 75 and 95 per cent, were discharged after succesful treatment in a government facility here, a top Health department official said here on Thursday.

The treatment of the two men and a 68-year old woman at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital (RGGGH) and their recovery and discharge was significant and a success story, Tamil Nadu Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said.

The men, aged 37 and 45, had 75 and 95 per cent lung involvement (infection of the lungs) respectively, he said.

The younger of the men was in the Intensive Care Unit for 45 days and later shifted to a ward and put on oxygen support for more 45 days, following which he has recovered.

The 45-year old man spent 103 days, including two months in the ICU, in the hospital and he too has been cured, the official said. (PTI)

20:16 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Probably we will have a very happy New Year: DCGI on Covid-19 vaccine

India is likely to have a Covid-19 vaccine in the New Year, Drug Controller General of India V G Somani hinted on Thursday.

Speaking at a webinar organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Somani said the most important thing is that the industry and research organisations have stood the test of time.

He talked about the efforts made by the Department of Biotechnology and said vaccine candidates have got funding. "...and probably we will have a very happy New Year with something in hand. That's what I can hint at," Somnai said.

An expert panel in the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) will meet on Friday, the first day of the year, to further deliberate on the matter to consider emergency use authorisation applications by Serum Institute of India (SII) for the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine and Bharat Biotech's 'Covaxin'. (PTI)

19:54 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Tamil Nadu beaches barred for Kaanum Pongal outing

Kaanum Pongal festivities next month would be a subdued affair in the state with the Tamil Nadu government announcing that popular beaches will be out of bounds for people, in a bid to check the spread of Covid-19, as it announced more relaxations to the virus-induced restrictions.

To curb the spread of the new strain of the virus, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the e-registration system would continue for those entering the state from other parts of the country, except Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Restrictions on international flight services will continue except for the routes allowed by Centre, he said in a statement, adding, the restrictions with relaxations will be in place till January 31, 2021. (PTI)

19:41 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Maharashtra Covid-19 update: Death toll reaches 49,521

Maharashtra's coronavirus case tally rises to 19,32,112 with 3,509 new cases, death toll reaches 49,521 with 58 new fatalities: state health department

18:59 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Last-minute night curfew dampens New Year buzz for party-goers, hospitality industry

After the details for night curfew on new year's eve was released by police, several establishments in the capital, hoping for a turnaround after almost 10 months of little or no business, said they told people the restrictions imposed were for "public places" -- which includes parks, atriums or any open space -- and not "licensed premises". But confusion persisted and many customers, anxious to avoid trouble and nervous about getting caught on their way back home, cancelled anyway.

"The order majorly asks us -- the restaurants -- to not host more than 50 per cent of our capacity for New Year celebration. Now, this is what we were already doing. All other restrictions are for public spaces," Rahul Sarin, owner of Dineroom and Teo Lounge, told PTI.

"But people watching news channels running stories like 'No New Year Celebration for Delhi' after night curfew and things are getting it wrong. This has impacted our business as I am getting several calls for booking cancellation," he said.

Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal gave out the same message. "Licensed premises have been exempted from this, they can continue to operate with their license condition, including half the seating capacity and other COVID-19 protocols," Singhal said. (PTI)

18:33 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Schools to reopen partially in Kerala from January 1

Schools in Kerala, remained closed since the imposition of coronavirus lockdown in March, will reopen partially on January 1, marking a new beginning in the education sector, but strictly in compliance with Covid protocols.

The classes for 10th and 12th standards would begin with limited hours and restricted number of students, official sources here said on Thursday.

State Health Minister K K Shailaja said here on Thursday that the academic year, which comes at a time of Covid pandemic, should be dealt with confidence but caution.

"Students should not be afraid to go to schools. The government has made all arrangements," she said, urging everyone to strictly follow the guidelines issued by the health and the educations departments. (PTI)

18:10 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Himachal now has 2,157 active Covid cases, 70% less than last month

Active Covid-19 cases in Himachal Pradesh dropped to nearly till the 2,500-mark Thursday after witnessing a constant decline this month. The state now has 2,517 active cases, down from around 8,300 a month ago, which is a decline of around 70 per cent.

Mandi district currently has the highest number of active cases, i.e 534, followed by Kangra, which has 524 active cases. There have been 919 Covid-related deaths in the state so far (excluding patients from Himachal who passed away after being referred to PGI in Chandigarh or other hospitals outside the state).

There was a sharp spike in Covid cases in Himachal in November, but the daily number of recoveries have mostly been exceeding the new cases this month, leading to a decline in the number of active patients.

17:39 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Tamil Nadu extends Covid-19 lockdown till January 31

Tamil Nadu government has extended the Covid-19 lockdown in the state till January 31 with further relaxations.

17:21 (IST)31 Dec 2020
No gathering allowed in areas like Connaught Place, India Gate during night curfew: Police

No gatherings will be allowed in open public places like Connaught Place and India Gate during the night curfew imposed by the Delhi government on December 31 and January 1 due to Covid-19 and its highly transmissible UK strain, police said on Thursday.

The night curfew will be clamped from 11 pm on December 31 to 6 am on January 1, and again from 11 pm on January 1 to 6 am on January 2.

"Till 11 pm on December 31 and January 1, normal Covid-19 protocols are being followed and gatherings are allowed. But beyond 11 pm till 6 am on next day, public gathering is not allowed in places like Connaught Place and India Gate," Delhi Police PRO Eish Singhal said.

"Only the licensed premises have been exempted from this. They can continue to operate with their licence condition, including half the seating capacity and other Covid-19 protocols," Singhal said. (PTI)

16:31 (IST)31 Dec 2020
First Covid vaccination center set up in Delhi

An insight into what would be a Covid vaccination center in New Delhi. This facility at the SDMC maternity home in Sriniwaspuri is the first Covid vaccination center set up in the capital New Delhi on Thursday. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

16:09 (IST)31 Dec 2020
No night curfew in Bengal on New Year's eve: Chief Secy

Night curfew will not be imposed in West Bengal on New Year's eve as the situation is not that adverse, a senior official has said.

The state government, however, will take all precautionary measures to prevent large gatherings on the occasion, he said.

The current situation is not conducive to imposing a night curfew, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said.

"New Year celebrations are organised at a few places in West Bengal. If people abide by the COVID-19 safety protocols and cooperate with the police and administration, large gatherings can be avoided," he said on Wednesday. (PTI)

15:53 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Over 36K ventilators delivered to govt hospitals amid Covid: Govt

The Health Ministry said on Thursday that it had ensured delivery of 36,433 ventilators to government hospitals in the country and the average cost now ranges between Rs 2-10 lakh as the domestic industry took up manufacturing of the equipment.

The ministry underlined that all public health facilities in the country had only around 16,000 ventilators from the Independence till pre-Covid times.

But in less than 12 months, 36,433 'Make in India' ventilators have been supplied to all the public health facilities, it said in a statement.

All export restrictions on ventilators have now been removed and 'Make in India' ventilators are being exported. The year witnessed tremendous achievements in the medical supplies sector in the country, the ministry said.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, India was almost totally dependent on imported ventilators, PPE kits and N-95 masks," it said. "There were, in fact, no standard specifications for these products which are essential in the fight against the pandemic." (PTI)

15:19 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Night curfew in Odisha on December 31

The Odisha government has imposed a night curfew from 10 pm on Thursday to avoid large gatherings during New Year celebrations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, an official said.

The restriction will remain in place till 5 am on Friday, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said.

However, all essential services will be allowed during the curfew hours, he said. (PTI)

15:13 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Moderna Covid-19 vaccine shows 94.1 per cent efficacy in trial: Study

Results from the primary analysis of the ongoing phase 3 clinical trial of US biotechnology company Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine have revealed 94.1 per cent efficacy of the therapeutic in preventing symptomatic infections and severe illness, according to a peer-reviewed study.

The study, published on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that among over 30,000 participants randomised to receive the vaccine or a placebo, 11 in the vaccine group developed symptomatic Covid-19 compared to 185 participants who received the placebo.

The researchers said this demonstrates 94.1 per cent efficacy in preventing symptomatic Covid-19, adding that cases of severe disease occurred only in participants who received the placebo. (PTI)

15:04 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Four new UK returnees found positive for new Covid strain in Delhi

Four persons who recently came to Delhi from the UK and tested positive for Covid-19, have been found infected with the new strain of coronavirus, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Thursday.

Interacting with reporters, he said, a total of 38 people have been found positive since coming to Delhi from the UK recently, and kept in a separate institutional isolation unit in the LNJP Hospital premises.

"Four such patients have been found infected with the new UK strain of Covid-19. The persons who came in their contact have been also traced and tested, and its not in them. So, only these four cases of new strain in Delhi so far," he said.

"Flights have been stopped and those who came before that are being traced and tested rigorously," he added. (PTI)

14:51 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Govt directs states to conduct dry run of vaccine administration on Jan 2

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan today chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness at session sites for Covid-19 vaccination with Principal Secretaries (Health), NHM MDs and other health administrators of all states/UTs through video conference. The government has directed all the state and UT governments to conduct a dry run on January 2, 2021. The activity is proposed to be conducted in all state capitals in at least 3 session sites. Some States will also include districts that are situated in difficult terrain/have poor logistical support.

14:19 (IST)31 Dec 2020
Poor air quality may affect recovered COVID-19 patients: Experts

Considering the drop in temperature that deteriorates air quality, doctors in Pune city have issued a word of caution for people suffering from lung ailments, especially those who have recovered from COVID-19. According to medical experts, deterioration of air quality can also cause complications in patients infected by coronavirus. Increased level of pollutants in the air can affect people suffering from lung-related disorders such as chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD) and COVID-19, prolonging the process of recovery, they said. "A drop in air quality makes it more difficult for COPD patients to breathe. We advise COPD patients and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 not step out in the polluted air," said Dr Vaibhav Pandharkar, a pulmonologist from Noble Hospital.

Dry run for the Covid-19 vaccine at Civil Hospital in Ludhiana on Tuesday (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Around 33,000 passengers had landed in various Indian airports from the UK between November 25 and December 23, when flights to and from that country were stopped. “All these passengers are being tracked and subjected by states to RT-PCR tests. So far, only 114 have been found positive [for all variants of the virus],” the Ministry said.

All samples from UK returnees that test positive in RT-PCR tests will be put through genome sequencing, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters. Also, as part of extensive surveillance, 5 per cent of positive samples in the general population of the country will also be subjected to genome sequencing, Bhushan said.

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