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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:
Gatherings capped at 50 persons in Maharashtra as coronavirus cases surge
Maharashtra Government has capped the attendance at gatherings in open or closed spaces at 50, following a surge in coronavirus cases in the State.
Not more than 100 persons in enclosed spaces and 250 persons in open spaces were allowed to attend a marriage function or a social, cultural, political and religious gathering earlier.
The State government issued fresh guidelines on Thursday night, capping the number of attendees at these events to 50 persons.
The new order also stipulates that only 20 persons can attend last rites.
Maharashtra recorded 5,368 coronavirus cases on Thursday, a spike of 1468 cases from a day before. This propelled the State’s COVID-19 tally to 66,70,754.
Virus delays UN nuclear treaty meeting, possibly till August
A coronavirus surge has upended plans to hold a major nuclear treaty conference at the United Nations, with participants agreeing Thursday to postpone the meeting just days before its scheduled start.
After nearly two years of pandemic delays, delegations from around the world had been scheduled due to converge on U.N. headquarters Tuesday to take stock of the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty, a pillar of nuclear arms control.
But organizers are now penciling in an August 1 start date for the already long-delayed conference, according to an email Thursday from the U.N. disarmament office to entities involved.
The treaty is the world’s most widely ratified nuclear arms control agreement, with 191 participating countries.- AP
Delhi police revise SOPs as coronavirus cases rise
The Delhi police revised the standard operating procedure amid rising COVID-19 cases in the Capital, even as an IPS officer with the Special Cell tested positive for the ‘Omicron’ variant, officers said on Thursday.
In the revised SOPs, the police said immunity booster kits and COVID protection kits are being arranged for distribution as and when required. Liaison Officers are required to get in touch with local hospitals and reserve beds for police personnel, in case the need arises. Quarantine rooms are also being arranged for those staying outside Delhi, they said.
Delhi Government to set up 3,200 beds for children requiring treatment
The Delhi government will create over 3,200 beds, including ICU beds, exclusively for children requiring COVID-19 treatment in the Capital.
In all, 37,000 dedicated COVID beds, over 10,000 COVID ICU beds, 2,300 paediatric COVID beds and 900 COVID paediatric ICU beds are part of the government’s bid to ramp up medical infrastructure to confront any medical eventualities that may arise, sources said.
A significant number of these beds will be created at 15 hospitals, six civic hospitals and COVID care centres set up by the Delhi government.
South Africa lifts curfew as it says COVID-19 fourth wave peaks
South Africa has lifted a midnight to 4 a.m. curfew on people’s movement with immediate effect, believing the country has passed the peak of its fourth COVID-19 wave driven by the Omicron variant, a government statement said on Thursday.
The country made the changes based on the trajectory of the pandemic, levels of vaccination in the country and available capacity in the health sector, according to a press release issued by Mondli Gungubele, a minister in the presidency.
South Africa is currently at the lowest of its five-stage COVID-19 alert levels.
“All indicators suggest the country may have passed the peak of the fourth wave at a national level,” a statement from the special cabinet meeting held earlier on Thursday said.- Reuters
Entire eligible population gets fully vaccinated in Indore district
The entire eligible population in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore district has been fully vaccinated against coronavirus, an official said on Thursday.
The district, among the worst-hit in the state during the pandemic, achieved the feat of full vaccination within 11 months after the inoculation drive began.
“We had set ourselves the target of inoculating 28,07,558 people above 18 years. Against the target, 28,18,304 eligible people have got double shots,” district immunization officer Dr Tarun Gupta said.
Teams of the health department ran a special drive from November 10 to jab the people who were hesitant to take the second dose, he said.- PTI
Israel to offer 4th vaccine dose to most vulnerable
Israel has approved a fourth vaccine dose for people most vulnerable to COVID-19, becoming the first country to do so as it braces for a wave of infections fueled by the omicron variant.
Nachman Ash, the director general of the Health Ministry, announced the decision at a press conference late on Thursday.
He says the decision is based on early research, and that officials will consider expanding the administration of a fourth dose to more of the public as they assess the situation.
Israel was among the first countries to roll out Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine a year ago and began freely offering boosters last summer.- AP
As virus surges, England builds temporary hospitals
England is building temporary hospitals to deal with a potential overspill of inpatients as surging virus cases put the country’s health service on a “war footing”, officials said Thursday.
Fuelled by the highly contagious Omicron variant, daily cases have ballooned, standing at more than 183,000 on Wednesday.
NHS England said it would build the structures known as “surge hubs” in the grounds of eight hospitals in cities including London, Bristol and Leeds from this week, with each designed to house around 100 extra patients.- AFP
Russia’s COVID-19 death toll climbs to world’s second highest
Russia has overtaken Brazil to have the world’s second-highest death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic, behind the United States, data from Russia’s state statistics service and Reuters calculations showed on Thursday.
The statistics service, Rosstat, said 87,527 people had died from coronavirus-related causes in November, making it the deadliest month in Russia since the start of the pandemic.
Russia’s overall pandemic death toll reached 658,634, according to Reuters calculations based on Rosstat figures up to the end of November and data from the coronavirus task force for December, overtaking Brazil which has recorded 618,800 deaths.- Reuters
Gujarat govt. ‘determined’ to hold Vibrant Summit amid rise in COVID-19 cases
Even as Gujarat is witnessing a sudden rise in coronavirus cases, state Health Minister Rushikesh Patel on Thursday said the state government is “determined” to organise the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit next month, for which it has sought a relaxation from the Centre in the seven-day quarantine rule so that international delegates from “at risk” countries can attend the event.
He said the event will benefit the state economically and also generate jobs.
Claiming that the coronavirus situation in the state is “under control”, the minister added that from now onwards, only fully vaccinated visitors will be allowed to enter government offices.- PTI
Covaxin safe for children, says Bharat Biotech
The Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) on Thursday announced that the BBV152 (Covaxin), its whole-virion inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate, has proven to be safe, well-tolerated and immunogenic in paediatric subjects in phase II/III study.
The Bharat Biotech had conducted phase II/III, open-label and multi-centre studies to evaluate the safety, reactogenicity and immunogenicity of Covaxin in healthy children and adolescents in the 2-18 age group, it said in a press release.
Decision on specific vaccine for ‘precaution’ dose this week, says government
The ‘precaution’ dose that is scheduled to be available to healthcare workers, frontline workers and those over 60 with co-morbidities may not necessarily be a repeat dose, senior Union Health Ministry officials said on Thursday.
“A decision will be taken this week. The NTAGI as well as other bodies are assessing the available data on the safety and efficacy of all the vaccines globally and there are meetings everyday. Before January 10, we’ll have a set of clearcut guidelines on what the recommended vaccine would be,” said Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Balram Bhargava at press briefing.
PM Modi puts off UAE visit after Omicron surge
Following a sudden spike in Omicron cases, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has put off his visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai next week, when India and the UAE were expected to announce a limited free trade agreement.
Mr. Modi was due to visit Abu Dhabi for official meetings and then travel to the Dubai Expo to tour the India pavilion on January 6. Diplomatic sources said the visit had now been postponed to a later date, but not cancelled.