Coronavirus live | Manipur imposes curbs on new year celebrations

The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 143.75 crore on Wednesday, the Union Health Ministry said

The number of COVID-19 infections in India is on an increasing trend. After consistently declining since mid-May, the average number of cases showed a bump again in the last week of December. On December 29, 13,187 cases were recorded, a 76.6% increase compared with the infections a week back. Data for some States — Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Tripura and smaller Union Territories — were not included as of 10 p.m. on December 29. A spike in COVID-19 infections has been reported in several States though most are yet to impose significant restrictions.

Editorial | Maximising the boost: On mixing COVID-19 vaccines

Of the vaccines against COVID-19 approved in India, Covovax would be a better booster for those who were administered Covishield jabs than another dose of the same vaccine, according to the data available presently, noted virologist Dr Shahid Jameel said.

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 updates:

Rajasthan to implement night curfew, no entry to public places for unvaccinated from Jan 31

Amid the rising number of coronavirus case, the Rajasthan government Wednesday asked officials to ensure effective implementation of night curfew and made full vaccination mandatory for entry to public places from January 31.

In fresh coronavirus guidelines issued on Wednesday, the state government said it is mandatory for its residents to get both the doses of coronavirus vaccine for entry in schools, colleges, cinema halls, malls and market, and the unvaccinated will not be allowed to go to public places after January 31, 2022. -PTI

U.S. authorizes German firm Siemens Healthineers’ at-home COVID-19 test

The U.S. drug regulator has granted emergency use authorization to German health technology company Siemens Healthineers’ at-home COVID-19 tests, a move that will boost availability of tests pressured by rising infection cases.

The approval comes at a time when companies such as Walmart Inc, Walgreens Boots Alliance and CVS Health Corp have limited sales of at-home COVID-19 testing kits as demand surged owing to the swift spread of the new variants of the coronavirus in the country. -Reuters

Omicron will soon replace Delta as dominant global variant: Experts

Experts in Singapore, where 170 new Omicron cases were reported on Wednesday, have warned that the new and supposedly more contagious variant is likely to replace Delta over the coming weeks to months.

While Delta is still the most common variant in all continents except Africa, Omicron is spreading very quickly, said Dr Sebastian Maurer-Stroh, executive director of the state-owned Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s Bioinformatics Institute here. -PTI

South Africa reinstates Covid contact tracing, quarantine requirements

South Africa on Wednesday brought back the requirements of contact tracing and quarantine under certain circumstances amid rising Covid-19 cases, less than a week after it announced to do away with them.

The health department had issued a circular on December 23 instructing all provincial authorities to stop contact tracing and some quarantine conditions.

The Department said it has been inundated with media, stakeholders and public enquiries and comments since the release of the revised Protocols on Contact Tracing, Quarantine and Isolation that it had issued. -PTI

Vehicles won’t be permitted towards Connaught Place after 8 p.m. on New Year’s eve

No vehicular movement will be allowed towards Connaught Place after 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve unless commuters have a pre-booking receipt of a restaurant, Delhi Traffic Police said on Wednesday.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Vivek Kishore said that no vehicle will be allowed towards Connaught Place beyond Mandi House, Bengali Market, north foot of Ranjit Singh Flyover, Minto Road, Chelmsford Road, R.K. Ashram Marg-Chitragupta Marg Crossing, Gole Market, GPO, Patel Chowk, Kasturba Gandhi Road-Ferozshah Road Crossing, Jai Singh Road-Bangla Sahib Lane, Pachkuian Road-Bangla Sahib Lane, Windsor place, Buta Singh Marg and State Entry Road-New Delhi Railway Station.

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Civic, police officials review precautions

With an increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the city, senior civic and police officials reviewed the measures and precautions in place.

On Wednesday, Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Chief Commissioner Gaurav Gupta told reporters that there were indications of increase in COVID-19 cases. With the new year round the corner, the State Government had already issued guidelines, the enforcement of which will be jointly monitored by both BBMP and police personnel. “Citizens must follow mask discipline, as without it (masks), they are susceptible to infections. They must also avoid crowded areas,” he said.

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WHO chief worried about ‘tsunami’ of omicron, delta cases

The head of the World Health Organization said Wednesday that he’s worried about the omicron and delta variants of COVID-19 combining to produce a “tsunami” of cases, but said he’s still hopeful that the world will put the worst of the pandemic behind it in 2022.

Two years after the coronavirus first emerged, top officials with the UN health agency cautioned that it’s still too early to be reassured by initial data suggesting that omicron, the latest variant, leads to milder disease. First reported last month in southern Africa, it is already the dominant variant in the United States and parts of Europe. -AP

Queues everywhere as restrictions kick in in Delhi

As the ‘yellow’ alert was announced in the Capital in view of the rise in COVID-19 infections, commuters were seen queuing up outside metro stations on Wednesday. The Delhi Metro said entry through some of the gates had been restricted due to the new Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) regulations.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), in a statement, said that passengers have been advised to plan their journey in advance and allow additional time for the commute in view of the strict enforcement of social distancing norms. Similarly, bus stops also saw long queues after public transport followed the 50% occupancy norm.

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Night curfew clamped in Manipur after detection of Omicron

Night curfew was clamped in Manipur from Wednesday till January 31, 2022 following the detection of Omicron in the state, according to an order issued by the state chief secretary Rajesh Kumar. The night curfew will be in force daily from 9 pm to 4 am from December 29 till January end, as per the order by Kumar. who is also the chairperson of the state executive committee of State Disaster Management Authority.

Manipur had reported its first case of Omicron on December 27 when a 48-year-old retrunee from Tanzania tested positive for the COVID variant.

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RT-PCR tests mandatory at Mumbai airport for UAE returnees, says BMC

Passengers arriving in Mumbai from the United Arab Emirates will have to undergo an RT-PCR test, depending on which a decision would be taken for 7-day home quarantine, the metropolis’ civic body said on Wednesday.

The decision was taken after Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner IS Chahal chaired a virtual meeting with civic officials, deans and medical superintendents of hospitals. -PTI

As COVID-19 cases rise, casinos, cinema halls to operate with 50% capacity

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Goa, the government on Wednesday issued an order allowing casinos to operate with 50 per cent capacity with entry restricted to people who are fully vaccinated or those carrying a negative RT-PCR test report and put similar curbs and conditions at some other establishments, including cinema halls and entertainment parks.

Goa has seen a sudden spike in COVID-19 cases over the last couple of days with 170 infections being reported on Wednesday. -PTI

Delhi Government may not send all samples for genome sequencing: officials

Delhi government officials are mulling not to send all COVID-19 samples for genome sequencing as 53.6% of 125 samples collected from people in the city, who did not have a travel history, have been detected with Omicron variant of COVID-19, an official source told The Hindu.

These samples were collected during the past week and the genome sequencing was done on Monday and Tuesday by Delhi government-run Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS). The rest of the 125 samples were Delta variant of the virus and lineages.

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To prevent migrant exodus, Delhi Disaster Management Authority decides against more curbs

Restrictions should not be scaled up despite the ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases to nip the possibility of a mass exodus of migrant workers — witnessed during the first two waves of the pandemic — in the bud, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) decided on Wednesday.

The current upsurge, mainly in the positivity rate, which settled at 1.29% on Wednesday, makes the situation ripe for the imposition of the ‘amber’ or level 2 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which calls for more restrictions if the positivity rate persists over 1% for over two days.

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‘Omicron scare may hit hotel bookings in January-March’

Low sentiment among business travellers on account of the Omicron scare is expected to take a toll on bookings during January-March,the Hotel Association of India said in its outlook for the coming year.

“The sentiment among business travellers is currently low owing to the Omicron scare and that is expected to take a toll on bookings during the Jan-March 2022 quarter,” said M. P. Bezbaruah, secretary general of the Hotel Association of India.

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Post-Christmas, Kolkata sees spurt in COVID-19 cases

There is a sudden spurt in the number of COVID-19 cases in Kolkata post-Christmas, sparking fears of yet another wave that may overwhelm the city’s health infrastructure.

Before the countdown began for Christmas celebrations, the city recorded around 200 new cases a day, a figure that has now shot up to almost 400. On December 21, for example, the whole of West Bengal reported 440 new cases, with Kolkata accounting for 177 of them. On December 28, these figures stood at 752 and 382 respectively.

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As cases rise, many apartments say ‘no’ to New Year bash

With the number of COVID-19 cases registering an increase in the city, many apartment complexes across the city have now decided not to have any New Year celebrations.

The State Government has brought in strict regulations ahead of the New Year to check the spread of COVID-19, including night curfew and prohibiting celebrations in public places.

The Bangalore Apartments’ Federation (BAF) has also issued two advisories to its member apartments to have muted/ minimal celebrations if at all, or avoid gatherings/ mass celebrations all together itself.

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Spike in COVID-19 cases keeps Chennai Corporation on its toes

With the Omicron variant of Sars-COV-2 driving the daily tally of new COVID-19 cases in Chennai to a six-month high, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) has strengthened its surveillance and intensified containment measures.

The city reported 294 cases on Wednesday, compared to just 136 cases reported a week ago. The last time the city reported cases higher than this was in the last week of June when the second wave of COVID-19 was subsiding.

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