Six COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday after screening 3,476 passengers of 11 flights that arrived in India from “at-risk” countries and the samples have been sent for genomic sequencing, the Health Ministry said amid concerns over the ‘Omicron’ variant of coronavirus.
The government on Wednesday decided not to resume scheduled international flights from December 15, less than a week after announcing the decision in the wake of rising concerns over the coronavirus variant Omicron.
Read | Tighter curbs prove costly to travellers
The World Health Organization expects to have more information on the transmissibility of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus within days, its technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said in a briefing on Wednesday. The WHO said on Tuesday that those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including people over 60 years of age, who are also vulnerable to the disease should put off travel to areas with community transmission.
You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.
Here are the latest developments:
Active COVID-19 cases in country increase to 99,763
With 9,765 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,46,06,541, while the active cases increased to 99,763, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.
The death toll climbed to 4,69,724 with 477 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.
The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been less than 50,000 for 158 consecutive days now.
The active cases comprise 0.29% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.35%, the ministry said. -PTI
Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and win electronic appliances: Maharashtra civic body tells citizens
The Hingoli Municipal Council in Maharashtra has decided to lure people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering them prizes like LED TVs, refrigerators and washing machines, officials said on Thursday.
Similar incentives were also announced by the Chandrapur civic body in the state earlier this month to encourage people to take the vaccine. -PTI
Karnataka revises protocols for international arrivals
Following directions from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka on Wednesday issued revised protocols from all international arrivals.
According to the revised guidelines, all travellers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airs uvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details. The traveller should upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report that is not older than 72 hours.
Japan retracts new flight bookings ban after criticisms
Japan says it has retracted a ban on new incoming international flight bookings to defend against the new variant of the coronavirus only a day after the policy was announced.
The transport ministry on Wednesday issued a request to international airlines to stop taking new reservations for flights coming into Japan until the end of December as an emergency precaution to defend against the new omicron variant. -AP
Moderna executive says company could have Omicron booster ready in March
Moderna Inc could have a COVID-19 booster shot targeting the Omicron variant tested and ready to file for U.S. authorization as soon as March, the company’s president said on Wednesday.
Moderna President Stephen Hoge said he believes booster shots carrying genes specifically targeting mutations in the newly-discovered Omicron variant would be the quickest way to address any anticipated reductions in vaccine efficacy it may cause. -Reuters
‘Vaccination mandatory to enter public, private places in Krishnagiri’
The district administration has banned entry of unvaccinated persons into public and private places here in the district.
With the emergence of Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant, the district administration has upped the ante against the unvaccinated.
Italy approves COVID-19 vaccination for 5-11 year olds
Italy’s medicines agency AIFA on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11.
AIFA’s decision, which was widely expected, came after the European Union’s drug regulator (EMA) took the same step on November 25. -Reuters
Saudis, UAE detect first cases of new coronavirus variant
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said they detected their first cases of the new coronavirus variant, recording the first known instances of omicron infections in the Persian Gulf region.
Saudi Arabia’s state-run Saudi Press Agency said its case was a citizen coming from what it described as a “North African country.” The report said the infected individual and his close contacts had been quarantined.
The UAE also reported its first case of infection with the omicron variant late Wednesday. State-run WAM news agency described the patient as an African woman who traveled from an African country through an Arab country, without specifying which nations. -PTI
Mexico approves emergency use of Lilly’s COVID-19 treatment
Mexico’s health regulator Cofepris said on Wednesday it had approved U.S. pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Co’s antibody treatment against COVID-19 for emergency use with infected patients at risk from comorbidities.
Cofepris said in a statement it had granted the emergency use of Lilly’s injectable combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab to treat mild to moderate cases of coronavirus in people above the age of 12 who weigh at least 40 kilograms. -Reuters
India’s Serum Institute delivers first Novavax shot through COVAX
Serum Institute of India has sent doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Indonesia, in its first export of the Novavax shot through the COVAX network, the Indian government said on Wednesday.
The world’s biggest vaccine maker exported 137,500 doses of Covovax, as it calls the shot, to the Southeast Asian country last week. -Reuters
WHO members agree to forge a pandemic accord
World Health Organization member states agreed on Wednesday to start building a new international accord on how to handle future pandemics and ensure there can be no repeat of COVID-19.
At a special meeting in Geneva, the 194 WHO member states unanimously adopted a resolution launching the negotiating and drafting process for a new international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
First case of Omicron variant identified in U.S.
A person in California became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a US official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. It comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.
The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Brazil confirms 3rd omicron case, considers new measures
Health officials on Wednesday confirmed Brazil’s third known case of the omicron coronavirus variant as the government examined possible new measures to contain the virus, such as suspending some flights and requiring arriving passengers to show proof of vaccination.
A passenger from Ethiopia tested positive for Covid-19 upon landing in Sao Paulo on Nov. 27, the state’s health secretariat said in a statement. The 29 year-old man is vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer shot and is in good health, officials said. -PTI
Jaipur airport gears up to implement Covid guidelines for international arrivals
The Jaipur International Airport here on Wednesday put in place several measures, including additional coronavirus testing facilities, to implement the government’s COVID-19 guidelines for international arrivals, officials said.
“Elaborate arrangements, including additional testing and resting facilities, for safety and convenience of passengers have been made at the airport. Larger waiting and seating areas with necessary amenities, additional counters and booths for registration and sampling, more ground staff for faster passenger processing are among the measures put in place to handle international arrival,” an airport official said. -PTI
Omicron alert: preventive measures tightened in Wayanad
The Wayanad district administration has intensified preventive measures and tightened surveillance in the wake of reports of Omicron spread in several countries.
District Collector A. Geetha on Wednesday ordered all those who had returned from abroad to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.
Nigeria says it found first case of omicron in November
Nigeria has detected its first case of the omicron coronavirus variant in travellers that arrived from South Africa in the past week, the country’s national public health institute said Wednesday, correcting its earlier statement that it found the variant in samples taken in October.
The Nigeria Center for Disease Control said in a second statement that it was the delta variant — not omicron as it had earlier stated — that was detected in the samples from October. It said the omicron variant was first detected in three travellers who arrived in the country in the past week. -PTI