India added 10,549 new coronavirus cases and 488 fatalities in the last 24 hours, pushing the country’s cumulative cases to 3,45,55,431 while the death count climbed to 4,67,468, the health ministry said today.
Active cases in India now stand at 1,10,133, the lowest in 539 days, and comprises 0.32 per cent of total infections. The national recovery rate stands at 98.33 per cent, the highest since March 2020.
The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 20,000 for 49 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 152 consecutive days now.
India has administered over 120 crore Covid vaccine doses till date.
However, several nations worldwide including India have expressed concern amid reports of a new Covid variant surfacing. Identified first in South Africa and already spreading to its neighbouring countries including Botswana, this variant has now been detected across the globe in Hong Kong and Israel as well, and is said to be much more infectious than the Delta variant, the “most heavily mutated” version of coronavirus discovered so far.
In response, several countries including the UK, Singapore, US and the EU have banned travel from southern Africa, as the World Health Organisation named the new variant “Omicron” a “variant of concern”.
Here are the Highlights on Coronavirus cases in India:
The US pharmaceutical company Moderna said Friday it will develop a booster shot against the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. It is one of three strategies the company is working to address the new threat, including a higher dose of its existing vaccine, Moderna said. Read here.
Karnataka reported 402 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths on Saturday, reported news agency ANI. As per the state’s health department, the state has 6,611 active cases of infection. Karnataka has recorded 29,94,963 infections since the onset of the pandemic last year. With 277 recoveries reported in the last 24 hours, the total recoveries climbed to 29,50,130. The death count is 38,193.
Canada on Friday announced restrictions on travel from seven African countries over concerns about the spread of a new Covid-19 strain. The measures will impact travel from Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, said Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos.
The number of West Bengal’s new Covid-19 cases and deaths has been declining for the past three days as the state recorded 710 new infections on Friday, according to a health department bulletin, reported news agency PTI. The tally went up 16,13,451 during the day while nine fresh fatalities took the death count to 19,439. On Friday, Kolkata registered 183 fresh infections, followed by North 24 Parganas (142), Howrah (67) and South 24 Parganas (60) districts.
Altogether 721 Covid-19 patients recovered in West Bengal on Friday pushing the number of cured people to 15,86,165. Meanwhile, on Friday, 6,61,790 vaccine doses were administered in the state. So far, 9,07,28,531 doses have been given to beneficiaries, an official added.
The World Health Organization on Friday declared the recently-discovered B.1.1.529 strain of Covid-19 to be a variant of concern, renaming it Omicron.
“Based on the evidence presented indicative of a detrimental change in Covid-19 epidemiology… the WHO has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern, named Omicron,” the UN health agency said in a statement.
A new variant of Covid-19 detected in South Africa known as B.1.1.529 has caused flight bans and a scramble to determine vaccine efficacy.
It is the latest coronavirus strain to emerge since the start of the pandemic, including the currently dominant delta variant, which was first detected in India in October 2020.
Globally, delta has overtaken other strains of the virus in most countries and accounts for 99.8 percent of sequenced cases over the past 60 days according to the latest weekly report by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Danish Health Authority has given the go-ahead to the vaccination of children aged 5-11 against COVID-19, Deputy Director General Helene Probst said on Friday.
“Despite most of the Danish population having already been vaccinated, and having achieved the revaccination targets, it is not enough to stop the pandemic. Therefore, children aged 5-11 will also be offered shots against the coronavirus,” Probst told reporters, as cited by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation.
Mumbai on Friday reported 230 new coronavirus infections and three fatalities, a civic official said.
It took the tally of coronavirus cases in the country’s financial capital to 7,62,185, and deaths to 16,322.
The city had reported 179 cases and four deaths the day before.
As many as 34,690 COVID-19 tests were conducted, taking the total of samples tested so far to 1,23,00,578.
As many as 248 recovered patients were discharged from the hospitals during the day.
There are 2,343 active COVID-19 cases in Mumbai now.
Mumbai’s average recovery rate is 97 per cent.
Belgium said Friday it has detected the first announced case in Europe of the new Covid-19 variant, in an unvaccinated person returning from abroad.
“We have a case that is now confirmed of this variant,” B.1.1.529, first detected in southern Africa, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told a media conference.
The national capital reported 23 fresh cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours with a positivity rate of 0.04 per cent, as per the Delhi state health bulletin on Friday.
With this, the cumulative cases of infection reached 14,40,807 including 301 active cases.
The city reported zero COVID-19 fatalities following which the total deaths remained at 25,095 and the case fatality rate remained at 1.74 per cent.
31 fresh discharges were added to the tally thereby taking the total discharges to 1415,411.
Europe rushed to ban travel from southern Africa on Friday to slow the spread of a new Covid-19 strain that scientists fear could torpedo efforts to beat the pandemic.
Global markets plunged as news sank in that a new variant more infectious than the Delta and possibly more resistant to vaccines could potentially deal a heavy blow to the global recovery.
Scientists are now racing to determine the characteristics and threat of the heavily mutated strain, designated B.1.1.529.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it could take several weeks to understand the variant and cautioned against imposing new travel curbs.
“WHO recommends that countries continue to apply a risk based and a scientific approach when implementing travel measures… implementing travel measures is being cautioned against,” said spokesman Christian Lindmeier.
The cumulative COVID-19 positives in Andhra Pradesh climbed to 20,72,198 with the addition of 184 fresh cases in 24 hours ending 9 am on Friday.
The total recoveries increased to 20,55,603 after 214 more infected people got cured.
The COVID-19 deaths rose to 14,432 as one more person died in a day, a health department bulletin said. The state now has 2,163 active cases, the bulletin added.
Chittoor district reported 36, Krishna 34 and West Godavari 30 fresh cases in 24 hours.
Five districts registered between 10 and 20 each and another five less than five new cases each.
On Friday too, only Krishna district reported one fresh COVID-19 fatality in the state.
The UK’s health authorities have confirmed that a new and “most significant” variant of COVID-19 is officially under investigation in the country as the government on Friday added six countries to its travel ban red list from southern Africa, where B.1.1.529 strain was first identified.
The latest variant is the most heavily mutated version discovered so far. First identified in South Africa at the start of this week, the strain has already spread to neighbouring countries, including Botswana, where it has been reportedly detected in fully vaccinated people.
The UK has applied travel restrictions on arrivals from South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia starting Friday, as the government reiterated that no cases of the new mutation had been detected in the UK so far.
According to the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), the variant includes a large number of spike protein mutations as well as mutations in other parts of the viral genome which could potentially be more transmissible and evasive to vaccine immunity.
“This is the most significant variant we have encountered to date and urgent research is underway to learn more about its transmissibility, severity and vaccine-susceptibility,” said Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive.
Italy joined Germany and Britain on a decision to ban entry of flights from southern Africa on Friday over reports of the “heavily mutated” new Covid variant, which was first detected in South Africa and has been rapidly spreading to neighbouring countries.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza said scientists were studying the new B.1.1.529 variant, “and in the meantime, we will follow the path of maximum caution”.
Italy’s decision comes amid independent considerations by the EU to ban flights from the southern African region as well.
Israel has identified a case of a Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations first detected in South Africa, the health ministry said Friday.
“The variant discovered in southern African states has been identified in Israel,” the health ministry said, adding it was recorded “in a person who returned from Malawi,” with “two more cases of people returning from abroad” placed in quarantine.
Germany will declare South Africa a virus variant area on Friday after the detection of a new COVID-19 variant there, a health ministry source said.
The decision, which will come into effect from Friday night, will mean airlines will be allowed to fly only Germans to Germany from South Africa, according to the source. Returning Germans, even those who are vaccinated, will then have to spend 14 days in quarantine.
Singapore will restrict arrivals from seven African countries, health officials said Friday, after South Africa discovered a new Covid-19 variant with a large number of mutations.
All non-Singaporeans and people without permanent residency in the city-state who have recent travel history to the seven countries will be barred from entering or transiting through Singapore, the health ministry said.
The new restrictions, which will take effect from Sunday, apply to South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, the ministry said.
WHO is monitoring the new Covid variant B.1.1.529 first detected in South Africa and will hold a “special meeting” today to discuss if the heavily mutated strain will become a variant of interest or a variant of concern, a top official said.
The new variant has been red-flagged by scientists over an alarmingly high number of spike mutations that might make the virus more resistant to vaccines, increase its transmissibility and lead to more severe COVID-19 symptoms.
World Health Organization officials met on Thursday to discuss a new coronavirus variant circulating in South Africa and Botswana.
The new variant, called B.1.1529, carries an unusually large number of mutations, Francois Balloux, director of the UCL Genetics Institute, said in a statement.
It’s likely to have evolved during a chronic infection of an immuno-compromised person, possibly in an untreated HIV/AIDS patient, he said.
“It is difficult to predict how transmissible it may be at this stage,” Mr Balloux added.
South Africa has detected 22 cases of the variant, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said in a statement.
India added 10,549 new coronavirus cases and 488 fatalities today, pushing the country’s cumulative cases to 3,45,55,431 and the death count to 4,67,468.
Active cases in India now stand at 1,10,133.
Of the 488 new deaths recorded today, 384 were in Kerala and 50 were from Maharashtra. Kerala’s 384 recorded fatalities included 328 deaths that were designated as Covid fatalities after the state government received appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court.
President Jair Bolsonaro said Thursday he was against Brazil resuming carnival celebrations in February, a rare nod to Covid-19 social distancing measures from the far-right leader.
Carnival was cancelled in Brazil this year because of the pandemic.
But authorities are considering allowing it to go ahead in 2022, given a sharp drop in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Brazil.
Britain on Thursday said it would ban travel from six southern African countries, after South Africa detected a new COVID-19 variant with a large number of mutations.
Javid said the new variant, which South Africa attributed to a surge in cases and had also been detected in travellers from the country in Botswana and Hong Kong, had not been found so far in Britain.