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Omicron Coronavirus India Highlights: Omicron 3 times more transmissible than Delta, strict actions required, Centre to states

Covid-19 Active Cases India Dec 21 updates, New Omicron Variant Cases in India, Coronavirus 3rd Wave, Covid-19 Vaccine Statistics: India has at least 200 cases of the new Omicron variant till now, the health ministry said on Tuesday.

By: Express Web Desk |
Updated: December 22, 2021 9:45:37 am
Mumbai Today Live Update, News Mumbai Weather LiveMedics from NMMC Health Department take swab samples of students for RT-PCR test at Shetkari Shikshan Sanstha School at Ghansoli, in Navi Mumbai, Saturday, Dec 18, 2021. (PTI)

Coronavirus Highlights: Omicron variant of Covid-19 is at least 3 times more transmissible than the Delta variant, the Centre has written to all states and Union Territories. In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Omicron is at least 3 times more transmissible than Delta. Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict and prompt containment action are required at the local and district level”.

India has at least 200 cases of the new Omicron variant till now, the health ministry said on Tuesday. Maharashtra and Delhi have the highest number of Omicron cases, at 54 each followed by Telangana (20) and Karnataka (19). The country recorded 5,326 new coronavirus cases and 453 deaths in the last 24 hours ending 8 am Tuesday. Active cases stand at 79,097, the lowest in 574 days.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government on Tuesday said that no parties or mass gatherings would be permitted in the state from December 30 to January 2 keeping in view the Covid-19 situation and the rising number of cases of Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus. Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters that upon recommendation from experts, the government decided to prohibit mass gatherings in the city and other public places in the state. In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has said that gatherings of more than 200 people will now require permission from the local assistant municipal commissioners.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that there is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron variant of coronavirus, though some of the mutations reported on spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines. “There are limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron,” he said in a written reply. He was responding to a question on whether the vaccinations that are given in the country are effective to develop immunity for this variant.

Live Blog

Omicron Coronavirus Live News: India reports 5,326 new Covid-19 cases and 453 deaths; Omicron tally at 200; Follow latest updates here.

22:29 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Four more Omicron cases reported in Telangana

Four more Omicron cases have been reported in Telangana on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases of the new coronavirus variant in the state to 24. Of the four new Omicron cases, three are passengers who arrived at the international airport here from countries other than those declared at risk by the Centre, while one is contact of a positive case, a state health department bulletin said. It said the outcome of 13 samples is awaited over their Omicron status. (PTI)

22:26 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Full-blown third wave or mild effect? An expert weighs in amid Omicron scare

With 19 confirmed cases of Omicron in Karnataka till now, an expert, a member of the state genomic surveillance committee, is looking at two possibilities — either a full-blown third wave or a mild effect of the new variant due to a high percentage of vaccination coverage. However, he warned that if the former happens, the state should be prepared for lockdowns and other restrictions.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dr Vishal Rao, who is also the Regional Director – Head & Neck Surgical Oncology and Robotic Surgery, HCG Cancer Hospital, said while there is a global spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, primarily due to the Omicron variant, currently, it is under control in India. Read More

21:36 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Over 138.89 crore Covid vaccine doses administered in India: Govt

The cumulative Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 138.89 crore (138,89,29,333) on Tuesday, the Union health ministry said. As many as 51,30,949 vaccine doses had been administered till 7 pm. The daily vaccination tally is expected to increase with the compilation of the final reports for the day by late night, the ministry said.

21:18 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Jammu reports three cases of Omicron

Three Omicron cases have been detected from the outskirts of Jammu city. 

Confirming this, the Jammu and Kashmir Government Health and Medical Efucation Department tweeted: "Three Omicron cases confirmed by NCDC, Delhi from a cluster in Jammu. Sample taken on 30th November. RTPCR testing of entire locality ordered”. 

Meanwhile, sources said that none of these people have travel history abroad.

20:55 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Explained: What are Centre’s guidelines to states for Omicron containment

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan Tuesday issued specific guidelines to the states in the backdrop of “initial signs of surge” in cases of Covid-19 as well as increased detection of the Variant of Concern (VoC), Omicron, in different parts of the country. These recommendations relate to strategies for containment and restrictions in districts reporting high positivity rates, including the imposition of night curfew, strict regulation of large gatherings, curtailing numbers in marriages. Read More

19:58 (IST)21 Dec 2021
11 new Omicron cases in Maharashtra

Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 11 more Omicron cases making it the top contributor for the new Covid-19 variant cases in the country. The state has so far detected 65 Omicron cases.

19:52 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Omicron 3 times more transmissible than Delta, strict actions required, Centre to states

Omicron variant of Covid-19 is at least 3 times more transmissible than the Delta variant, the Centre has written to all states and Union Territories. In a letter, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “Omicron is at least 3 times more transmissible than Delta. Hence, even greater foresight, data analysis, dynamic decision making and strict and prompt containment action are required at the local and district level," news agency ANI reported.

19:19 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Highly vaccinated UAE reports most virus cases in months

The United Arab Emirates on Tuesday recorded its highest daily virus caseload in months, a spike that comes as the omicron variant races across the globe and the Mideast tourist hub prepares to welcome hordes of tourists for the holidays. The UAE reported 452 infections in the past 24 hours, including two deaths - an increase not seen in the highly vaccinated Gulf Arab state since mid-September.

Infections had plummeted to record lows, around 50 a day, just over a week ago, contributing to a sense in the freewheeling entrepot of Dubai that the worst of the pandemic was over and life could return to normal. A nationwide mask mandate remains in place outdoors, but Dubai's bars and restaurants have been teeming with mask-less revelers. Most luxury hotels report that they're booked through the December holidays. (AP)

18:31 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Kerala reports 2,748 new Covid-19 cases, 233 deaths

Kerala on Tuesday logged 2,748 new Covid-19 infections, taking the caseload to 52,10,738. The state also reported 233 deaths, raising the toll to 45,155. Of the 233 deaths, 33 were recorded over the last few days and 200 were designated as Covid-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court.

With 3,202 more people recovering from the virus since Monday, the total recoveries reached 51,48,703 and the active cases dropped to 28,035. As many as 56,808 samples were tested in the last 24 hours.

17:07 (IST)21 Dec 2021
No evidence to suggest that existing vaccines don't work on Omicron: Govt

There is no evidence to suggest that existing vaccines do not work on Omicron variant of coronavirus, though some of the mutations reported on spike gene may decrease the efficacy of existing vaccines, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

"There are limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron," Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said in a written reply.

16:54 (IST)21 Dec 2021
No parties, mass gatherings from Dec 30 to Jan 2 due to Covid-19, rising Omicron cases in Karnataka

Keeping in view the Covid-19 situation and the rising number of cases of Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus, the Karnataka government on Tuesday said that no parties or mass gatherings would be permitted in the state from December 30 to January 2.

"We had a meeting with experts through video conference regarding the new year celebrations, keeping in mind the COVID-19 and Omicron related cases. On their recommendation, the government decided to prohibit mass gatherings in the city and other public places in the state. We are banning mass gatherings at open places. This is across the state from December 30 to January 2," Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters.

He said no parties or events like having Disc Jockeys at clubs and restaurants would be allowed. "The clubs and restaurants will be allowed to have only 50 per cent of the capacity, but there is a ban on organising parties and Disc Jockeys. Similarly in apartments too, there will be no parties or DJs and residents' associations will have to ensure that the rules are not violatedm," Bommai said. (PTI)

16:26 (IST)21 Dec 2021
New Zealand to shorten gap between second Covid-19 vaccine dose and booster

New Zealand will shorten the gap between second Covid-19 vaccine doses and boosters and push back the phased reopening of its borders in measures announced Tuesday to keep the omicron variant at bay.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkin told reporters the government has agreed to a “suite of precautionary measures” in light of the threat posed by the omicron strain of the coronavirus. The gap between a second vaccine dose and a booster will be shortened from six to four months, meaning 82 percent of vaccinated New Zealanders will be due for a booster by February.

New Zealand's strict border regulations so far have been successful in keeping omicron from spreading in the community. The only cases reported so far have been in travelers who are in managed isolation and quarantine. (PTI)

15:48 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Complete vaccination crosses 75 per cent mark in Kerala

The complete Covid vaccination has crossed the 75 per cent mark in Kerala as over two crore people have received both the first and second doses of the jab, the state government said on Tuesday. 

A total of 2,60,09,703 crore people- 97.38 per cent of the total population to be vaccinated, have taken the first dose of the jab while 2,00,32,229 people-75 per cent- received the second shot, state Health Minister Veena George said. (PTI)

14:51 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Lok Sabha MP tests positive for Covid-19, was in Parliament on Monday

Lok Sabha MP Kunwar Danish Ali, who attended Parliament on Monday, said he has tested positive for Covid-19. The BSP leader added that he is fully vaccinated, and urged people who had come in contact with him to isolate themselves.

“Despite being fully vaccinated, today, I tested positive for #COVID19. Yesterday, I attended Parliament also. I request all those who came in my contact to get tested and isolate themselves. I am having mild symptoms and hope to recover soon,” he tweeted.

14:11 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Two omicron cases detected in Odisha

At least two people in Odisha have tested positive for the omicron variant of COVID-19, the first cases of the latest version of coronavirus in the state, officials said on Tuesday. Bhubaneswar-based Institute of Life Sciences (ILS) confirmed the existence of the variant in the two patients after conducting the genome sequencing of 12 samples.

Both of them have travel history to foreign nations - Nigeria and Qatar, respectively, they said. The returnee from the African country is fully vaccinated, and is stable in hospital, Cuttack District COVID-19 Nodal Officer Umesh Ray said.

12:39 (IST)21 Dec 2021
India's Covid-19 positivity rate at 0.53%

The covid-19 daily positivity rate in India was recorded at 0.53 per cent. It has been less than two per cent for last 78 days. The weekly positivity rate was also recorded at 0.59  per cent. It has been below one per cent  for the last 37 days, according to the ministry.

12:25 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Watch| What experts say on Omicron's transmissibility

12:17 (IST)21 Dec 2021
India's vaccine manufacturing capacity will reach 45 cr doses per month: Health Minister 

India’s vaccine manufacturing capacity will reach 45 crore doses per month in the next two months, Union Health Minister Mansukh  Mandaviya said, adding that the current capacity is 31 crore doses.

With 137 crore doses administered so far, 88 per cent of the country’s population have received one dose of the vaccine, while 58 per cent have been fully vaccinated, he said. Mandaviya said the figures are impressive when seen alongside numbers in countries with less populations. For example, he said, in the UK, US, Germany and Italy, the share of first-dose coverage is 76, 72, 73 and 79 per cent, respectively.

12:14 (IST)21 Dec 2021
Report on efficacy of our vaccines against Omicron soon, says Govt

The effectiveness of Covid vaccines available in India against the Omicron variant will be known within a week, when the results of a related study are published, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told Parliament Monday.

Besides, he said, the Government is taking all steps to tackle any surge, based on learnings from the first and second waves, including ramping up medical oxygen capacity and buffer stock of medicines.

12:11 (IST)21 Dec 2021
World| Omicron cases in US less than 1,500 but infections could be over six lakh

Though less than 1,500 cases of Omicron variant have been confirmed in the United States so far, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that over 70 per cent of all cases detected in the last week could be because of this new variant.

The United States has been reporting over one lakh new cases a day. According to Washington Post, the seven-day average of new cases touched 1.31 lakh on Monday. That would mean that the US already has over six lakh infections of the Omicron variant in the population.

In its new assessment of the spread of the Omicron variant, the CDC has said that up to 73 per cent of all cases detected between December 12 and 18 could be because of this variant. The percentage could be even higher, over 90 per cent, in New York and some other regions, according to a report by The Associated Press. (Read more here)

A worker prepares a bed for Covid patients in Commonwealth Games Village in view of the Omicron cases, in New Delhi, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. (PTI Photo)

Cases, positivity at 6-month high; city works to reopen Covid centres

The test positivity rate — the percentage of coronavirus tests that returned a positive result — was 0.17% in Delhi on Sunday, the highest in almost six months.

These increases in the capital come as a wave of infections, driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus, sweeps through Europe, where several countries have announced a return of lockdown measures.

The United Kingdom reported 82,886 new cases on Sunday — only the fourth time since the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020 that daily cases have passed 80,000 — and a 72% increase over the 48,000-odd infections recorded last Sunday.

A total 22 cases of Omicron have been reported in Delhi so far. Ten of these patients have been discharged from hospital. The majority of positive cases are not genome sequenced to determine the variant of the coronavirus responsible for the infection.

Worries over low demand, Omicron: Recovery ongoing, but remains uneven

India’s economic recovery so far while reasonably strong has been uneven. The organised corporate sector has bounced back, as reflected in the strong tax collections even, as the informal sector seems to be stuck in a rut.

Recent job data is worrying. Joblessness hit 8.53 per cent in the week to December 12, for the first time in 17 weeks, owing to a spike in urban unemployment to 10.09 per cent and also elevated rural unemployment at 7.42 per cent, data from the CMIE showed. An added obstacle could be the new Omicron wave and the inadequate pace of vaccinations.

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