Coronavirus Omicron India December 4 Highlights: Omicron reaches Maharashtra, Kalyan resident tests +ve for new variant

Covid-19 India Live News, New Omicron Variant Cases in India, Coronavirus Vaccine Statistics and Registration Latest Update Live, December 4 Highlights: Amid Omicron threat, Delhi Airport gets 20 ‘test counters’, Mumbai Airport cuts rapid PCR price

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The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country so far has exceeded 126.53 crore.

Coronavirus Vaccine Registration, Coronavirus Omicron Variant Cases in India Highlights: Gujarat’s health department has confirmed one more case of Omicron variant which takes up India’s total tally of Omicron cases to three. According to news agency PTI, the infected man is 72-year-old man and had returned to Jamnagar city of Gujarat from Zimbabwe. The Gujarat health department had on Friday informed that the man’s samples were sent for laboratory testing to identify whether he was infected with the new mutant Omicron or not. A South Africa returnee was also booked for violating home quarantine protocol, Chandigarh Health Secretary Yashpal Garg told news agency ANI on Saturday. The woman in question had returned on December 1. Although her RT-PCR report came out to be negative, she still broke home quarantine on December 2 and checked into a hotel. Keeping in view the possibility of travelers breaking protocols and checking into hotels, the local administration has directed the hotels to ask for 15-day travel history of international travelers.

Two cases of Omicron variant were reported from Karnataka on Thursday after which a wave of panic, fear and concern was felt across states. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Thursday issued a list of frequently asked questions about the Omicron variant. The Centre had earlier also informed that given Omicron’s characteristics, it is likely to spread to more countries, including India, but given the high exposure to delta variant and high-paced vaccination, the severity of the disease is expected to be low.

Meanwhile, India reported 8,603 new cases of Covid-19 infections on Saturday. The tally of Coronavirus cases rose to 3,46,24,360, but active cases declined to 99,974, as per the data updated by the Union Health Ministry. However, an uptick was seen in the death toll which rose to 4,70,530 with 415 fatalities reported on Saturday. The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country so far has exceeded 126.53 crore.

Here are the latest and verified Covid-19 updates from India and around the globe:

Live Blog

22:21 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: One death, 46 fresh cases in Punjab

One more person died from coronavirus in Punjab on Saturday as 46 fresh cases took the state’s infection tally to 6,03,451, according to a medical bulletin. The death was reported in Ludhiana district, which took Punjab’s total fatality count to 16,608. Ferozepur reported 12 cases, followed by nine in Jalandhar and seven in Hoshiarpur. The number of active cases was 347. Fifty-two more people recovered from the infection, taking the number of those who have been cured to 5,86,496, as per the bulletin. Union Territory Chandigarh reported three COVID-19 cases, taking the total count to 65,481. No death was reported in the city in the past 24 hours. The death toll stood at 820. The number of active cases in the city was 60 while the number of cured persons was 64,601. PTI

21:58 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Three persons who arrived in Mumbai from abroad test positive for COVID-19, total rises to 13

Three more passengers who arrived at the Mumbai airport from abroad in the recent days tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, a civic official said. The total of such travelers found with COVID-19 infection since the government made RT-PCR test mandatory for those returning from high risk countries — over concerns about the Omicron variant — rose to 13. – PTI

21:48 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Britain reports 42,848 new COVID-19 cases, 127 further deaths

Britain reported 42,848 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, government figures showed, a drop in daily cases following two straight days where more than 50,000 cases were recorded.There were 127 deaths within 28 days of a positive coronavirus test, down from 143 deaths reported on Friday. – Reuters 

21:40 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Two more travellers from UK, Singapore test positive for COVID-19 in TN: Minister

Two more individuals who arrived from the United Kingdom and Singapore have tested COVID-19 positive pushing the total number of the virus-hit people who arrived from overseas to five, Tamil Nadu Minister Ma Subramanian said on Saturday. “On Friday, three individuals who arrived from Singapore and the United Kingdom tested COVID-19 positive, including a child. This morning, a 25-year-old man arrived from the United Kingdom via Dubai and tested positive”, the Minister for Medical and Family Welfare said. The Minister was talking to reporters in Villupuram after inspecting the 13th edition of mega vaccination camp being held across Tamil Nadu today. – PTI

21:05 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker:Days after favouring booster dose, INSACOG says more experiments needed to assess its impact

Days after favouring a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people above 40 years, the country’s top genome sequencing laboratories on Saturday said their recommendation was not for the national immunisation programme as many more scientific experiments are required to assess its impact. In a bulletin issued on Saturday, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) said the mention of the booster dose in its previous bulletin was merely a ‘discussion about the potential role of additional dose of Covid-19 vaccines in high-risk populations’. – PTI

20:46 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Madhya Pradesh logs 18 new COVID-19 cases; active infections at 142

As many as 18 persons tested positive for coronavirus in Madhya Pradesh, taking the tally of infections to 7,93,232 on Saturday, an official from the state health department said. The count of recoveries rose to 7,82,562, after 10 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, while the toll remained unchanged at 10,528, as no fresh casualties were reported, the official said. With this, the central state currently has 142 active cases, he said. With the addition of 56,304 swab samples examined during the day, the total number of tests conducted in MP went up to 2,20,94,282, the official added. – PTI

20:35 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: India achieves another 1 crore COVID19 vaccinations today

India achieves another 1 crore COVID19 vaccinations today! With the Har Ghar Dastak campaign in full swing, the world’s Largest Vaccination Drive is touching new heights & accomplishing new feats under PM Narendra Modi’s leadership: Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya – ANI

19:38 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Omicron reaches Maharashtra

A 33-year-old person from Kalyan-Dombivli who recently returned from South Africa found positive for Omicron variant of COVID19: State Health Department. This is the first case of the variant in Maharashtra and the fourth in the country.- ANI

18:56 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Delhi airport sets up 20 counters for int’l flyers who have pre-booked Covid test to ease ‘chaos’

The Delhi airport authorities on Saturday said 20 dedicated counters have been set up for the passengers arriving from “at risk” countries and having pre-booked their mandatory COVID-19 test, after many flyers complained of chaos and crowding at the terminal following the implementation of new travel guidelines. According to the Union Health Ministry’s guidelines issued earlier this week, all passengers coming from “at-risk” countries have to compulsorily undergo PCR test and five per cent of passengers arriving from other countries would also have to take the test on a random basis. The passengers will have to wait for the results before leaving the airport or taking a connecting flight, according to the guidelines. “For the convenience of the passengers, DIAL has set up 20 dedicated counters on arrival piers for passengers who have pre-booked their RT-PCR/Rapid PCR test,” Delhi International Airport Limited said. – PTI

18:56 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Nashik records 48 fresh COVID-19 cases

The COVID-19 tally in Nashik district of Maharashtra rose to 4,12,597 with the addition of 48 cases on Saturday while one fatality pushed the death toll to 8,728 so far, officials said. With 59 people being discharged during the day, the number of recoveries in the Nashik district went up to 4,03,421, they said. A total of 28,93,804 samples have been tested for coronavirus in the district so far, including 5,149 on Saturday, officials added. PTI

18:55 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Delhi reports 51 cases, zero death

Delhi has recorded 51 fresh COVID-19 cases at a positivity rate of 0.08 per cent and no death due to the infection has been reported, according to data shared by the health department here on Saturday. With the new cases, the cumulative tally of cases has increased to 14,41,295 in the national capital, while over 14.15 lakh patients have recovered so far, the data stated. The death toll due to the coronavirus infection stands at 25,098, the health department said in a bulletin. Seven COVID-19 deaths were reported in the city in November, the highest number of fatalities due to the coronavirus infection in the last three months in the national capital, according to official data. Delhi had recorded four Covid deaths in October and five in September. – PTI

18:29 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Govt writes to states/UT over rising weekly positivity rates & deaths

The Union health ministry on Saturday wrote to Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and Mizoram to take necessary steps under the ‘Test-Track-Treat-Vaccinate-Covid Appropriate Behaviour’ strategy to control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce fatality. The move comes in view of rising cases of the infection, weekly positivity rates and weekly deaths in some districts. Referring to a letter sent to all states/UTs on November 27 in the context of the new Omicron variant, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday said all states have been advised to undertake enhanced surveillance of international travellers, monitor emerging hotspots, prompt contact tracing of positive people, besides sending all positive samples for genome sequencing, early identification of cases and review of health infrastructure preparedness, and most importantly to focus on IEC and community sensitisation. – PTI

18:28 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Haryana reports no Covid death, 17 new cases

Haryana recorded no new coronavirus-related death, even as it added 17 fresh infections on Saturday, pushing the case count to 7,71,797, according to the state health department’s daily bulletin. The death toll remained unchanged at 10,054, it said. Among the districts, nine fresh COVID-19 cases were from Gurugram. The state is left with 157 active cases, while the overall recoveries have reached 7,61,563. Haryana has a COVID-19 recovery rate of 98.67 per cent, the bulletin said. PTI

18:00 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Mumbai airport cuts Rapid PCR test price to Rs 3,900

The city’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport ( CSMIA) on Saturday said it has revised downward the charges for Rapid PCR test for COVID-19 at its facility to Rs 3,900 from Rs 4,500 earlier. Along with this, normal RT-PCR test costing Rs 600 per passenger is also available at the airport, the CSMIA said in a statement. The reduced RT-PCR test charges will help passengers to avail the COVID-19 test at a minimal cost and enable them a safe and secured travel, the private airport operator added. It said that a total of 6,732 international passengers, who arrived here from “at-risk” countries as well as other nations on Friday, successfully completed their arrival procedures. – PTI

17:59 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: AP clocks 186 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths

Active Covid-19 cases in Andhra Pradesh remained almost constant at 2,149 as the state reported 186 fresh positive cases, 191 recoveries and three deaths in the 24 hours ending 9 am on Saturday. The state Covid-19 chart now showed a total of 20,73,576 positive cases, 20,56,979 recoveries and 14,448 deaths, according to the latest bulletin. East Godavari district logged 32 fresh cases, Krishna 28, West Godavari 26, Chittoor 21, Visakhapatnam 20, Anantapuramu and Guntur 11 each in 24 hours. The remaining six districts added less than 10 new cases each. Krishna, Guntur and Visakhapatnam districts reported one fresh fatality each in a day. PTI

17:30 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Delhi reports 51 cases, zero death

The national capital recorded 51 coronavirus cases at a positivity rate of 0.08 per cent while there was no more death due to the infection, according to data shared by the health department here on Saturday. The number of cumulative cases of the disease rose to 14,41,295. Over 14.15 lakh patients have recovered so far. The death toll due to the coronavirus infection in Delhi stood at 25,098. Seven COVID-19 deaths were reported in the city in November, the highest number of fatalities due to the coronavirus infection in the last three months in the national capital, according to official data. Delhi had recorded four Covid deaths in October and five in September. (PTI)

17:26 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Darjeeling DM intensifies mask enforcement activities

17:20 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Dutch authorities say 18 passengers from South Africa had Omicron

Dutch health authorities said on Saturday the final tally of passengers on two flights from South Africa last week who had tested positive for the Omicron coronavirus variant was 18. The Netherlands’ Institute for Health (RIVM) added in a statement that its investigation on passengers on the two flights has now been wrapped up. The flights had already taken off on Nov. 26 when the Dutch government introduced new travel restrictions due to worries about the newly detected Omicron variant. More than 600 passengers travelling on the flights were kept isolated and tested for COVID-19, with 61 testing positive, including the 18 who were found to have the Omicron variant. Those who tested positive but have no symptoms will be allowed out of isolation on Saturday while others will have to stay longer, the institute said. (Reuters)

17:02 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Merkel makes final appeal to Germans to get vaccinated

Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday made what is likely her final appeal before leaving office next week for Germans to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Merkel gave what is expected to be her last weekly video message two days after federal and state leaders decided on a series of measures meant to break a wave of coronavirus infections. The measures include excluding unvaccinated people across the country from nonessential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues. In a longer-term move, parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate. At least 68.9 per cent of Germans are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, short of the government’s aim of a minimum 75 per cent vaccination rate. The number of unvaccinated residents has been blamed as a key factor in a surge of new virus cases in recent weeks. Official figures suggest that the infection rate may now be stabilising, but at too high a level. The national disease control centre on Saturday reported 64,510 new daily cases and a seven-day infection rate of 442.7 new cases per 1,00,000 residents. Another 378 deaths in 24 hours brought Germany’s total in the pandemic to 1,02,946. “Every one of them leaves behind families or friends, stunned, speechless and helpless,” Merkel said in her video message. “This is so bitter because it is avoidable. With the effective and safe vaccines, we have the key to this in our hands.” She renewed a plea to Germans to take the virus seriously, adding that the new omicron variant “appears to be even more contagious than the previous ones.” “Get vaccinated, no matter whether it’s a first vaccination or a booster,” Merkel said. “Every vaccination helps.” (AP) 

16:47 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: South African official says number of children sick with COVID-19 is not cause for panic

Higher hospital admissions among children during a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections in South Africa that is driven by the Omicron variant should prompt vigilance but not panic as infections have been mild, a health official said on Saturday. A large number of infants admitted with COVID-19 last month in Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes the capital Pretoria, raised concerns that the Omicron variant could pose greater risks for young children than other coronavirus variants. Scientists have yet to confirm any link and have cautioned that other factors could be at play. Ntsakisi Maluleke, a public health specialist in the Gauteng province that includes Tshwane and the biggest city Johannesburg, said that out of the 1,511 COVID-positive patients in hospitals in the province 113 were under 9 years old, a greater proportion than during previous waves of infection. “We are comforted by clinicians’ reports that the children have mild disease,” she told Reuters in an interview, adding health officials and scientists were investigating what was driving the increased admissions in younger ages and were hoping to provide more clarity in the coming two weeks. Since only a small percentage of South Africa’s positive COVID-19 tests are sent for genomic sequencing, officials do not yet know which variants the children admitted to hospital have been infected with. Maluleke said healthcare workers could be acting out of an abundance of caution. “They would rather have a child under care for a day or two than having a child at home and complicating, … but we really need to wait for the evidence,” she said. She said many COVID-19 patients in Gauteng were reporting “non-specific” flu-like symptoms like a scratchy throat, as opposed to more easily identifiable markers like a loss of taste or smell. But she urged parents and pregnant women, another cohort that has seen more hospital admissions recently, not to take flu-like symptoms lightly and to get tested in case intervention is needed further down the line. “The public needs to be less fearful but vigilant,” she added. Despite a recent influx of admissions, Gauteng’s dedicated COVID-19 bed occupancy was still only around 13%, Maluleke said, adding that contingency plans were in place should capacity become stretched. Scientists are still working to find out what severity of illness is caused by the Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month and since seen in more than 30 countries, and whether it may be more resistant to existing vaccines. (Reuters)

16:31 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Delhi Police directs personnel to be prepared for Omicron

Amid rising concerns over ‘Omicron’, the new variant of COVID-19, the Delhi Police has instructed its personnel and their family members to get fully vaccinated, besides following COVID-appropriate behaviour, officials said on Saturday. The department has also called for reviving its COVID-19 Health Monitoring Cells headed by inspector-rank officials, and ensuring availability of oxygen cylinders and life saving medicines, they said. Further, police officials have been directed to make the COVID-19 helpline functional at the earliest and gradually step up prosecution of those found violating COVID-appropriate behaviour. Special Commissioner of Police (Welfare) Shalini Singh, in an order issued on December 2, has instructed all the 15 police districts and other units to be fully geared to face any exigency related to Omicron through their respective COVID-19 nodal officers. The force has been asked to ensure preparedness of COVID care centres, availability of oxygen cylinders and concentrators, life saving medicines, hospital beds, ambulances, sanitizers, masks, gloves, PPE kits and other essential items, it stated. “We have advised our staff to wear masks, maintain hygiene, minimize touching items and use sanitizers regularly. Windows of police stations are being kept open for ventilation. They have also been asked to ensure there is no crowding at police stations,” a senior police officer said. According to data shared by the Delhi Police, over 95 per cent of its staff are vaccinated. Of the total 77,809 members, 74,289 have been vaccinated till December 2 while 1,636 have been medically exempted due to health-related issues. “Deputy Commissioners of Police (DCPs) have been tasked with reviewing the medical exemption granted to certain police personnel from vaccination and encouraging them to get vaccinated after consulting doctors,” the order read. “The DCPs shall be the nodal officers for ensuring proper medical facilities to the police personnel and their families, and an officer of the rank of inspector or above shall visit the hospitalised police personnel and ensure requisite assistance,” the order read. The department directed that the nodal officers from the hospitals and the DCPs, who are the nodal officers for the police, share all contact information immediately on the department’s official e-mail ID. Besides, the DCPs will be responsible for ensuring that the data on hospitalisation of police personnel is e-mailed to the department by 8 am everyday. The order laid emphasis on revival of COVID care centres at Shahdara and Rohini on priority. (PTI) 

16:18 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: 1 in 3 Indians continue to refrain from carrying masks when stepping out, says Survey

Mask compliance continues to remain at its lowest in India despite concerns over detection of Omicron variant in the country, with only 2 per cent of surveyed citizens saying that people in their area, city or district are complying well with mask-wearing norms. According to a latest survey conducted by digital community based platform LocalCircles, one in three Indians say most people in their area are not even carrying masks when stepping out of their houses. The survey, conducted in April, received more than 25,000 responses from citizens residing in 364 districts of India. It also said that 29 per cent of citizens rated mask compliance as high. This percentage dropped to 12 per cent in September, and dropped drastically to only 2 per cent in November. The need of the hour is to educate the public on the effectiveness of masks as two in three Indians are still wearing cloth masks that provide limited protection from COVID-19. “It is critical that the central government, state governments and district administrations introduce all possible mechanisms to create awareness about mask compliance in light of the Omicron variant and enforce necessary penalties to drive this compliance,” Sachin Taparia, founder, LocalCircles said. (PTI)

16:10 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Omicron-concerned Singapore stops VTL travel for work pass holders

Singapore government on Saturday said employers of S Pass and work permit holders in construction, marine shipyard and process sectors will not be allowed to make new applications for their employees to enter the country via the vaccinated travel lanes (VTL). The decision by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) comes in the wake of rising concern over the Omicron variant globally. On Friday, Singapore had announced the tightening of rules for VTL travellers in view of the new variant (Omicron). The S Pass allows mid-level skilled foreign staff to work in Singapore. The ministry said that S Pass and work permit holders in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors, as well as other dormitory-bound workers, should come in via the work pass holder general lane. They may also enter Singapore via ongoing industry initiatives such as programmes with “upstream testing” and isolation in the source country, it said. “The number of workers entering under these lanes meet industry needs while allowing the entry of these workers to be done at a pace where they can be safely onboarded before entering the dormitories and worksites as these are higher risk settings,” the Channel News Asia quoted the MOM as saying. The entry of workers under these lanes is done at a pace where they can be safely onboarded before entering high-risk settings like dormitories and worksites, said MOM in a statement. For instance, workers have to show verification of vaccination and go for medical examination under these lanes. The Ministry said workers, who have obtained approval prior to the effective date to enter Singapore via VTLs, will still be allowed to do so. “They will need to take an on-arrival COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction test and self-isolate while waiting for the results. Those who test negative will go through the five-day on-boarding programme. More details will be communicated to the employers,” it added. (PTI) 

15:41 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Odisha reports 193 new Covid-19 cases, 2 deaths

Odisha logged 193 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 10,50,060 on Saturday, while the COVID-19 death toll mounted to 8,420 with two more fatalities, a health department bulletin said. A patient each in Khurda and Jajpur districts succumbed to the disease, it said. The state now has 2,383 active COVID-19 cases, while 10,39,204 people have recovered from the disease, including 233 in the last 24 hours, the bulletin stated. Gajapati district has no active case for the second consecutive day, and 11 out of 30 districts in the state did not report any new cases of the contagion. Khurda district, of which the state capital Bhubaneswar is a part, recorded the highest number of 88 new infections, followed by 14 in Jajpur and 12 in Cuttack, it said. Twenty-three children were among those afflicted with the disease. As many as 59,736 samples were tested in the last 24 hours. The positivity rate stood at 0.32 per cent, the bulletin stated. On Wednesday, the state had logged 270 new COVID-19 cases and three fatalities. Nearly 2.8 crore beneficiaries in the state have received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine and nearly 1.63 crore people have been administered both the shots, the bulletin added. (PTI)

15:27 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Congress launches online campaign to press for Rs 4 lakh compensation for kin of COVID-19 deceased

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi launched on Saturday the party’s online campaign demanding compensation for the families of those who died of COVID-19 and accused the central government of sleeping on the pain and loss of people. “When it comes to people’s pain and loss, Government of India is sleeping. Let’s wake them up,” Gandhi said on Twitter while launching the “#SpeakUpforCovidNyay” campaign. On its official Twitter handle, the Congress party said the aim of the campaign was to demand that the central government disclose the actual number of Covid deaths in the country, and “properly compensate all families of the victims with Rs 4 lakh”. The Modi government has very tactfully tried to cover up its failures in managing the COVID-19 pandemic by distorting the number of Covid deaths, the party alleged. “#SpeakUpForCovidNyay so the govt is forced to disclose the correct number of Covid deaths,” it said. “By making up false numbers, the Modi government is not only withholding compensation for lakhs of families, but it is simply trying to cover up its failure in managing and controlling the pandemic,” the party said. The Congress said that under the disaster management guidelines, the government is required to compensate the families of COVID-19 victims with Rs 4 lakh. “The Modi government has carefully tried to wriggle its way out of compensating the fair amount and is trying to settle compensation of a meagre amount of Rs 50,000,” it alleged. Several state Congress units and leaders across the country put out videos in support of the online campaign and to press the government for providing compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the families of the COVID-19 deceased.
The party has raised the demand in Parliament too. (PTI)

15:17 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Researcher says SGTF strategy will help in early detection of Omicron cases

Amid the rising concerns over Omicron, the new variant of coronavirus, researchers are pitching for genome sequencing of positive samples using RT-PCR kits that employ ‘S’ Gene Target Failure (SGTF) strategy to detect the variant. Talking to PTI, scientist Krishna Khairnar, who is one of the key researchers in COVID-19 diagnostics in India, said tests target “multiple genes” of the virus so that a broad range of variants are covered. For example, ‘S’ Gene, ORF, ‘N’ gene, Rdrp, ‘E’ gene etc are viral genes that are targeted to detect COVID-19 virus, and multiple genes make up the genetic structure of SARS-Co V-2, said Khairnar of Nagpur-based CSIR-NEERI. In case of Omicron variant, the ‘S’ gene is not getting detected in Thermofisher’s Taq Path RT-PCR test due to mutation in the gene, while other gene targets such as ORF gene and N gene are getting detected, he said. “The occurrence is called as ‘S’ Gene Target Failure (SGTF) positive cases. Such samples can be presumptively reported as Omicron positive and can be sent for fast-track genome sequencing for confirmation,” Khairnar said. Khairnar further informed that the SGTF strategy focuses on taking those positive samples in which the RT-PCR test result shows ‘S’ Gene negative result, but ORF and N gene are positive. The SGTF strategy will work as a kind of early detection at RT-PCR stage, and will help in screening COVID-19 positive samples of Omicron variant, he said. “Although this variant is new and incidences are less at this juncture in India, it may be a matter of days that it spreads faster among the population. It will be a wise strategy to identify Omicron patients at the RT-PCR stage itself. We can track, quarantine and contact trace cases and send samples for sequencing to confirm the infection and contain it in early stages,” Khairnar said. Both RT-PCR followed by genome sequencing will aid in early detection of Omicron cases, he added. (PTI)

14:48 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Jamnagar man who returned from Zimbabwe found infected with Omicron variant of COVID-19

Jamnagar man who returned from Zimbabwe found infected with Omicron variant of COVID-19: Gujarat health department (PTI)

14:47 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Maharashtra’s acting chief secy takes 1st COVID-19 vaccine jab 10 months after launch of inoculation drive

Over 10 months after the COVID-19 vaccination drive began in the country, Maharashtra’s acting chief secretary Debashish Chakrabarty has taken the first dose of the vaccine, a medical officer said on Saturday. The 59-year-old senior bureaucrat was administered the dose here on Thursday. The medical officer said that Chakrabarty defended the move of taking the jab months after the launch of the vaccination drive, saying that although he had no aversion to the vaccine, it was his personal decision and he could take the dose whenever he wanted. The IAS officer took the vaccine chiefly in view of the upcoming winter session of the state Assembly, which is scheduled to start from December 22, the medical officer added. Vaccination is mandatory to attend the winter session of the Assembly. A total of 11.72 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the state so far, while nearly 50 per cent of the eligible population has been covered with the first dose, it was stated. The countrywide vaccination drive was rolled out on January 16 this year. (PTI) 

14:23 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Two percent passengers from not ‘at risk’ nations to undergo random testing on arrival at Bengaluru

In line with the fresh norms following the Omicron variant scare, the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) in Bengaluru on Saturday said two per cent of the passengers coming from countries, which are not in the ‘at risk’ category, will undergo random testing on arrival at the airport. In a tweet, the BIAL, which manages the airport, said, “As per the international travel guidelines, 2% of the passengers coming from countries that are not in the ‘at-risk’ list shall undergo random testing at the Airport on arrival. The cost of random testing of such passengers will be borne by BIAL.” Amid the Omicron variant scare, the Government of India issued a new set of guidelines on November 30. It said that travellers from countries excluding those countries at risk will be allowed to leave the airport and should self-monitor their health for 14 days post arrival. A sub-section or two per cent of the total flight passengers should undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival. The two per cent of such travellers in each flight should be identified by the concerned airlines, preferably from different countries, and such travellers should be escorted by the airlines or Ministry of Civil Aviation to testing area on arrival. The cost of testing of such travellers shall be borne by the travellers identified for random testing themselves. The Government of India has also made a self-declaration mandatory for the passengers before scheduled travel including 14 days of travel details. Passengers originating or transiting from ‘at risk’ countries should be informed by the airlines that they will undergo post arrival testing, quarantine if found infected, stringent isolation protocols if tested positive, the GOI order said. It added that the passengers found symptomatic during screening will be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as per health protocol. (PTI) 

13:58 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Double vaccinate against Covid first, experts say amid calls for booster shots

India should prioritise double vaccinating its eligible population against Covid over booster shots given the large number of people still to get the base layer of protection against the infection, say scientists. Concerns over the Omicron variant and waning vaccine-induced protection against the infection have highlighted the need for boosters to protect the most vulnerable. And while many countries have already started giving booster shots, several experts here said the priority in India has to be different given that large-scale immunisation programme began only six-eight months go. In advocating putting boosters on the back-burner for the moment, the experts’ opinion runs counter to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG) that has recommended a booster dose for those above 40 years in high-risk and high-exposure populations. The INSACOG is a network of national testing labs set up by the government to monitor genomic variations of COVID-19. “We have a large proportion of our population in the below 18 age-group. Until that is achieved, a uniform policy for second booster, or a third dose, is not advisable,” immunologist Vineeta Bal told PTI, pointing out that large-scale vaccination in India began only in March 2021. What we should focus on, she said, is fully vaccinating all the eligible population in India and pushing for vaccination of the under 18 age group on a large scale. “Consistent finding with breakthrough infections is that these episodes are less in severity as compared to unvaccinated. That still confirms that immunity does exist in vaccinated individuals in India,” Bal, guest faculty at Pune’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, told PTI. Satyajit Rath, from New Delhi’s National Institute of Immunology (NII), added that it is not clear yet if boosters are needed for any vaccine worldwide yet. “The duration of immune responses and protection are beginning to show differences, too, in recent studies. So I would be loath to jump the gun and say anything very definitive about boosters based on these data,” he told PTI. Bal agreed that there is no solid data on waning immunity in India. In principle, of course, immunity will wane with time. “Antibody levels in serum will be lower six months down the road than soon after vaccination but that is not the only and adequate evidence of significant lowering of protective immunity which is based on immunological memory,” she added. Bal noted that boosters have more benefit psychologically than in terms of providing further protection, for common people, excluding vulnerable populations. “However, vaccinating people from the global south is very critical at this point. We have seen how rapidly Omicron crossed national and continental barriers to reach different parts of the globe. “Unless pretty much everybody is vaccinated globally there is no way of sitting back, the immunologist added. India has administered 1,26,37,79,602 (126 crore/1.26 billion) vaccine doses so far, with 79,68,96,038 (79.6 crore/796 million) receiving one dose while 46,68,83,564 (466 million/ 46.6 crore ) receiving two doses. (PTI)

13:45 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Karnataka CM gives update on fresh set of orders concerning Omicron variant

13:33 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Puducherry logs 28 new cases of COVID-19

Puducherry clocked 28 fresh cases of coronavirus on Saturday, raising the overall tally of infections to 1,29,056. The new cases identified at the end of examination of 2,514 samples were spread over Puducherry 15, Karaikal 7 and Mahe 6. Yanam an enclave of Puducherry in Andhra Pradesh did not report any fresh case of infection. One more person succumbed to the viral infection raising the overall toll to 1,875. Director of the Health Department, G Sriramulu said there were 294 active cases which comprised 58 patients in hospitals and the remaining 236 were in home isolation. While 32 patients recovered and were discharged during last 24 hours, the overall recoveries were 1,26,887, he said. The test positivity rate was 1.11 percent while fatality and recovery rates were 1.45 percent and 98.32 percent respectively. The Health Department has tested so far 19.92 lakh samples and found 16.91 lakh out of them to be negative. The department has administered 12,55,172 doses so far which comprised 7,70,558 first doses and remaining 4,84,614 second. (PTI)

13:14 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Malls in Bengaluru asking people for complete vaccination certificates

13:06 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live tracker: Andamans reports 2 new Covid-19 cases

Andaman and Nicobar Islands recorded two new COVID-19 cases, one more than the previous day, pushing the tally in the union territory to 7,688, a health department official said on Saturday. Both the cases were detected during contact tracing, he said. The archipelago now has eight active COVID-19 cases and all the patients are in the South Andaman district. The other two districts – North and Middle Andaman and Nicobar are now coronavirus free, the official said. One more person recuperated from COVID-19, taking the total number of recoveries to 7,551. The COVID-19 death toll in the union territory remained at 129 as no fresh fatality due to the contagion has been reported in the last 24 hours. The administration has so far tested 6,36,693 samples for COVID-19 and the cumulative test positivity rate is 1.21 per cent. A total of 5,58,608 beneficiaries have been inoculated in the union territory so far of which 2,97,140 have received the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 2,61,468 both doses of the vaccine, he added. (PTI)

12:48 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Over 21 lakh people vaccinated against Covid-19 in Muzaffarnagar

A total of 21.90 lakh people have so far been vaccinated against the novel coronavirus infection in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh, officials said on Saturday. Chief Medical Officer M S Faujdar said 18,141 people were vaccinated in 111 centres in the district on Friday. “A total of 21.90 lakh people have so far been vaccinated against the infection in the district,” he said. (PTI)

12:47 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Parliamentary panel recommends evaluation of vaccines, more research for booster dose

Amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, a parliamentary committee has recommended that the efficacy of Covid vaccines must be evaluated and the government conduct more research to examine the need for booster doses to contain the new strain. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health, which presented its report on Friday, also said that concerns with regard to the new strain developing immunoescape mechanism should be critically addressed. In view of loss of life during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the committee noted that the measures taken by the health ministry to contain or prevent the spread of SARS-COV-2 proved to be squarely inadequate and suggested that the focus should be on strengthening health infrastructure, ensuring adequate availability of beds, supply of oxygen cylinders and essential medicines. With the threat of a third wave looming around, the government should utilise the time in strengthening public health infrastructure. This is evident from the fact that unlike the first wave (which peaked in September 2020) of the COVID-19 pandemic, which largely was restricted to urban areas where testing was introduced rapidly, the second wave (peaked in May) largely spread through rural towns and villages, it said in its report. The committee, thus, observed that there is a dire need for improving the geographical spread of testing facilities in rural regions of the country. It also recommended establishing sync between PHCs/CHCs with the VRDLs in the states.

In its report, the committee said it apprehends that a rise in mutations in the virus may lead to reporting of more virulent and transmissible strain of the Covid virus in the country and strongly recommended the Union health ministry to adopt a zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy and closely track Covid cases across the country. “The committee believes that timely detection and isolation of potentially infectious people is very crucial in reducing the impact of the pandemic. The importance of diagnostic testing therefore, cannot be overlooked,” the panel said in its report. Besides, the government must aggressively keep pushing the vaccination programme in terms of granting approval to more vaccines, ramping up vaccine production, enhancing delivery capacity and increasing the vaccination rate, the committee said in its recommendations. (PTI)

12:35 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Single-day Covid recoveries surpass fresh cases in Arunachal Pradesh

Single-day COVID-19 recoveries outnumbered fresh cases in Arunachal Pradesh as four more persons recuperated from the disease while one new infection pushed the coronavirus tally to 55,286, a senior health department official said on Saturday. A total of 54,973 people have recovered from the COVID-19 so far, the official said. The COVID-19 death toll remained unchanged at 280 as no fresh fatality was registered in the last 24 hours, State Surveillance Officer (SSO) Dr Lobsang Jampa said. The northeastern state now has 33 active COVID-19 cases, he said. (PTI)

12:24 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: BMC mandates 7-day home quarantine for passengers from high-risk countries

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation has mandated seven-day home quarantine of people arriving in the city from high-risk countries amid global concerns over the Omicron variant of coronavirus. The BMC issued this order on Friday as Mumbai international airport caters to thousands of travellers on a daily basis. The civic body’s order said that with the coordination of the airport authorities, the BMC will everyday receive a list of passengers, who arrive from the countries defined as “high-risk” or “at risk”. The list will also include the detailed address and contact numbers of these travellers. “The BMC will get the list at 10 am daily, after which its staff will contact the passengers to inform them to remain home quarantined for the next seven days. Adherence to the home quarantine order is mandatory and the passengers will be shifted to government-run institutions if they are found violatingit,” it said. “An RT-PCR test will be conducted after seven days and necessary steps will be taken accordingly,” the order added. The Omicron strain, first detected in South Africa, has been classified as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organization (WHO). The first cases of Omicron variant in India have been confirmed in two individuals in Karnataka. (PTI)

12:05 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Mizoram reports 315 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

Mizoram’s COVID-19 tally surged to 1,36,080 as 315 more people tested positive for the infection on Saturday while one new fatality pushed the coronavirus death toll to 504, an official statement said. The state had also reported 315 COVID-19 cases on Friday. Aizawl district reported 174 new cases, Champhai (35), Serchhip (31), Kolasib (24), Mamit (12), Lawngtlai (10), Lunglei (12), Khawzawl (6), Saitual (5), Hnahthial (4) and Siaha (2), it said. The single-day positivity rate increased to 12.63 per cent from 9 per cent on Friday, the statement issued by the Information and Public Relations Department said. Mizoram now has 3,620 COVID-19 active cases, while 1,31,956 people have recovered from the disease, including 411 on Friday. The COVID-19 recovery rate now is 96.96 per cent and the death rate is 0.37 per cent. The state has so far tested over 14.42 lakh samples for COVID-19 including 2,494 samples on Friday.
According to state Immunisation Officer Dr Lalzawmi, 7.21 lakh people have been inoculated and over 5.66 lakh of them have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccine till Friday. (PTI)

11:49 (IST)04 Dec 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Thane sees 109 fresh COVID-19 cases, two deaths

Thane district of Maharashtra recorded 109 new coronavirus positive cases, which increased its infection count to 5,69,662, while the death of two patients took the toll to 11,587, an official said on Saturday. These infection cases and fatalities were reported on Friday, he said. Thane’s COVID-19 mortality rate is 2.03 per cent at present. In neighbouring Palghar district, the caseload has risen to 1,38,632, while the number of people who have succumbed to the infection so far is 3,300, another official said. (PTI) 

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