Coronavirus November 28 Highlights: Karnataka requests Centre to impose travel ban amid Omicron scare; Tamil Nadu issues advisories to districts

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Security guards block an exit as they directs people to scan a QR code to track their health status at Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, following new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Shanghai. (Reuters photo)

Coronavirus Cases in India, Coronavirus Statistics India highlights, Coronavirus New Variant Omicron News: Is it 2019? Is it 2020? Is it 2021? Coronavirus pandemic has given us a sense of time warp. An unending cycle of restrictions is in news again. So, if you are getting a sense of déjà vu after reading about the Omicron Covid variant, you are not alone. In India, while there is no case of Omicron infection as of now, local authorities are exercising caution. From genome sequencing to mandatory quarantine to RT-PCR tests, local authorities in Mumbai, Gujarat and Karnataka have announced a slew of measures to make sure that the Omicron variant doesn’t make any inroads in India. World over, from the US to Australia, nations are imposing new restrictions. This may also impact the economic resurgence of the global economy. Friday’s mayhem in world trade markets shows how precarious the situation is. The only correct path is to toughen the mask discipline and understand the importance of social distancing.

Here are the latest Covid highlights from India and around the world:

Live Blog

23:00 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Vistara looking forward to Centre’s guidance on scheduled international flights

Full service carrier Vistara on Sunday said it was looking forward to the guidance from the government on normalisation of international flight services amid the emergence of a new COVID variant. Two days after announcing that scheduled international flight services to and from India will resume from December 15 subject to certain conditions applicable for ‘at risk’ countries, the government on Sunday decided to review the decision on effective date as per evolving global scenario. Scheduled international passenger flights remain suspended since March 23 last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and on Friday, aviation regulator DGCA said the suspension will continue till 2359 hours of December 14. Limited air services are being operated between India and select countries under the air bubble agreements. “We look forward to guidance from the government,” a Vistara spokesperson told PTI on Sunday in response to a query on the government’s decision to review the decision to restart scheduled international flights. Vistara, a joint venture between Tatas and Singapore Airlines, started flying to eight international destinations during the pandemic under the air bubble arrangements. Last week, Vistara designate CEO and its Chief Commercial Officer Vinod Kannan told PTI that prolonged suspension of scheduled commercial international air services to and from the country was impacting the topline of some airlines. IndiGo did not offer any comment while SpiceJet and GoFirst did not respond to the query. On Sunday, the government decided to review the decision on resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services as well as SOP on testing and surveillance of incoming passengers, especially from countries identified as ‘at risk’ in the wake of the emergence of new coronavirus variant of concern ‘Omicorn’. (PTI) 

22:50 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Lakshadweep revises travel restrictions in view of Omicron

In view of a new coronavirus variant Omicron being reported from various parts of the world, the Lakshadweep administration on Sunday revised the travel restrictions and quarantine norms in the island archipelago. This new variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, the administration said in an order. It said that anyone wishing to visit the island archipelago shall carry with them a negative RT-PCR test report obtained within 48 hours of the travel and submit the same at the entry and exit points. This is applicable to crews of mechanised sailing vessels and fish collection boats also, it said. After reaching the islands, visitors need to follow COVID appropriate behaviour and undergo three days mandatory quarantine, it said and added that this is not applicable for those who have taken both doses of vaccine 14 days prior to their travel. No COVID-19 test result is required for inter-island travels for those vaccinated with two doses 14 days prior to their trip, but those who are partially or non-vaccinated not only have to carry a RT-PCR negative test report, they also have to undergo three-days mandatory quarantine. The other norms are that shore leave would be granted only to those ship crew who have been fully vaccinated and that thermal-scanning of passengers has to be carried out at Kochi and all ports of arrival. (PTI)

22:40 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Chhattisgarh sees 30 new Covid-19 cases, zero death

With the addition of 30 coronavirus positive cases on Sunday, Chhattisgarh’s infection count rose to 10,06,763, a health official said. No fresh fatality due to the virus was reported during the day, which kept the death toll in the state unchanged at 13,593, he said. The number of recoveries rose to 9,92,840 after nine patients were discharged from hospitals, while 17 others completed their home isolation during the day. There are 330 active coronavirus positive cases in the state. “Raipur and Durg recorded seven new cases each, while Raigarh and Bilaspur logged three and two cases respectively. No fresh cases were reported in 16 districts,” he said. As 12,996 samples were tested during the day, the state’s cumulative test count rose to 1,42,24,106. Chhattisgarh’s coronavirus figures are as follows: Positive cases 10,06,763, new cases 30, death toll 13,593, recoveries 9,92,840, active cases 330, tests done so far 1,42,24,106. (PTI)

22:30 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Karnataka seeks travel ban on passengers coming from nations hit by Omicron variant

The Karnataka government has requested the Centre to impose a travel ban on passengers coming from South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana in view of the detection of the new variant of COVID-19 -‘Omicron’, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said on Sunday. “A new strain of the COVID-19 has appeared abroad, which is mainly seen in South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana. European nations have imposed restrictions and the WHO has also raised an alarm against this new variant by calling it a matter of concern,” Bommai told reporters here. “We have also requested the Union government to ban travellers from the three countries (South Africa, Hongkong and Botswana),” he added. Stating that there were no details available about the impact of the new variant, Bommai pointed out that he has learnt that it is a super spreader and hence, India is on the alert. “India is on the alert. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had convened a meeting and given a slew of directions. Keeping that in mind, we too had convened a meeting on Saturday in the state. So far we have not come across the new strain in the state,” the Chief Minister said. Bommai said he has ordered restrictions at the airport for people coming from countries, which are in contact with people from nations where the new Omicron variant has been detected. “The travellers will be let go only if they test negative for the COVID-19 or else they will be sent to the containment zone. Earlier, there was a system that the travellers were allowed to go after collecting samples and then they were quarantined after testing positive,” Bommai said. (PTI)

22:20 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Tamil Nadu issues advisories to districts over Omicron variant

The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday directed district administrations to intensify surveillance and carry out field tests amid reports of presence of new ‘Omicron’ strain of coronavirus abroad, and said it was significantly more transmissible than the Delta variant. In a letter to the district officials shared with the media, state Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan said the Union Health Secretary wrote to him about the reports of emergence of a new variant and directed the states to be alert. District Collectors were apprised about the instructions while field level inspections were carried out at the Chennai airport by Health Minister and senior department officials. The new variant (Omicron) has ‘immune escape potential’ and possible transmissibility advantage compared to Delta variant, and subsequent transmission of Omicron in South East Asia region, including India was ‘high’, he stated in the letter. Radhakrishnan warned that in case of another surge of COVID-19 driven by ‘Omicron’ variant, the consequences would be ‘severe’ and the overall risk related to the novel variant Omicron for South East Asia region was ‘rated to be high”. He stressed that enhancing surveillance and field level investigations, use of facial masks, physical distancing, and hand hygiene remain key to reducing transmission of Covid-19 and even Omicron. He also said authorities should ensure that mitigation plans are put in place to maintain essential health services and necessary health care resources are in place to respond to potential surges. The officials were instructed to accelerate vaccination coverage, especially among priority population targeted for COVID vaccination. “I would like to inform that in light of various reports of emerging new variant of concern and the anxiety among people, the situation has been shared not only to sensitize the districts on the emerging scenario but also that we are adequately prepared and are ready to tackle such public health challenges..,” the top health official said. (PTI) 

22:06 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Goa logs 27 new Covid-19 cases, 1 death

Goa’s COVID-19 tally reached 1,78,866 on Sunday with the detection of 27 cases, while the death of one patient took the toll to 3,382, an official said. The recovery count stood at 1,75,211 after 28 people were discharged, leaving the state with an active tally of 273, he said.
With 1,791 samples being examined in the last 24 hours, the number of tests in Goa went up to 15,40,655, he added. Goa’s COVID-19 figures: Positive cases 1,78,866, new cases 27, death toll 3382, discharged 175211, active cases 273, samples tested till date 15,40,655. (PTI) 

21:55 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Gujarat logs 26 new COVID-19 cases

Gujarat reported 26 new coronavirus positive cases on Sunday, raising its infection tally to 8,27,408, the state health department said. The number of anti-coronavirus vaccine doses administered in the state crossed the 8-crore mark to reach 8,00,23,305 after over 1.43 lakh people were vaccinated during the day, it said. As 33 patients recuperated from the infection on Sunday, the overall recovery count rose to 8,17,032, it said. No death due to the virus was reported in the last 24 hours in the state. This kept the COVID-19 death toll in Gujarat unchanged at 10,092, the department said in a release. The number of active cases in Gujarat further went down to 284, with four patients being critical. District-wise, Vadodara reported seven new cases, Ahmedabad, Surat and Kutch five cases each, and Bhavnagar, Gir Somnath, Navsari, and Porbandar one case each. (PTI)

21:41 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: J&K logs two Covid-19 deaths, 145 new cases

Jammu and Kashmir recorded 145 fresh COVID-19 cases on Sunday, taking the number of those infected to 3,36,531, while two new deaths due to the virus raised the toll to 4,475, officials said. Eighteen of the fresh cases were from the Jammu division and 127 from the Kashmir division of the Union Territory, the officials said. They said Srinagar district recorded a maximum of 61 new COVID-19 cases followed by 31 cases in Baramulla district. There are 1,658 active cases in the UT, while the number of recoveries stands at 3,30,398, the officials said. (PTI)

21:25 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Nepal sends 750 samples to UK for gene sequencing

Nepal on Sunday sent some 750 samples for gene sequencing to the UK to find out whether the new omicron variant of the coronavirus has entered the country. The new COVID-19 variant B.1.1.529, first detected in South Africa this week, was on Friday designated as a “Variant of Concern” by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which named it omicron. A “variant of concern” is the WHO’s top category of worrying COVID-19 strains. “Samples have been sent for gene sequencing regularly from Nepal. But, this time a little more samples are sent to see whether the new variant has arrived here, as there is much fear about it,” Dr Samir Kumar Adhikari, deputy spokesperson at the Ministry of Health and Population told journalists. He said some samples have been put for laboratory tests at the Teku-based Central Laboratory and information about the status of the new variant in Nepal will be known after the report arrives. The Nepal government has sounded alert against the possible spread of omicron variant. As per the new arrangement, everyone entering Nepal from any foreign country will compulsorily require to submit a PCR negative report, he pointed out. (PTI)

21:14 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Madhya Pradesh logs 18 new Covid-19 cases

The COVID-19 infection tally in Madhya Pradesh rose to 7,93,138 on Sunday with the addition of 18 cases, a health official said. The death toll remained unchanged at 10,528 as no fresh fatality was reported during the day, he said. The recovery count increased to 7,82,488 after eight patients were discharged from hospitals. There are 122 active coronavirus cases in Madhya Pradesh now. As 56,961 swab samples were examined during the day, the number of tests conducted so far in the state has now risen to 2,17,59,833, the official said. A total of 8,55,51,051 anti-coronavirus vaccine doses have been administered in the state so far, including 1,69,050 during the day, an official release said. The coronavirus figures in MP are as follows: Total cases 7,93,138, new cases 18, death toll 10,528, recoveries 7,82,488, active cases 122, number of tests done so far 2,17,59,833. (PTI) 

20:59 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Uddhav Thackeray calls for Covid-appropriate behaviour to avoid lockdown

Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Sunday said that in order to avoid another coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state, people must follow COVID-appropriate behaviour, and asked the authorities to take necessary steps to protect citizens from the new Omicron variant of the virus without waiting for the Centre’s directives. He was speaking during a virtual meeting with divisional commissioners and district collectors held to discuss the COVID-19 situation in the state and the precautionary measures that need to be taken in view of the Omicron variant detected in South Africa. “Do whatever is needed to prevent the new deadly variant of COVID-19. Get started without waiting for central government’s directives,” Thackeray asked the officials. “Citizens need to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to prevent another lockdown in the state,” he said. During the meeting, Thackeray also asked the authorities to keep a vigil on all travellers landing at the state airports, the chief minister’s office (CMO) said in a statement. (PTI) 

20:49 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Mumbai sees 217 COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths

Mumbai on Sunday reported 217 fresh coronavirus positive cases and four fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 7,62,616 and the toll to 16,330, the city civic body said. A total of 247 patients recovered during the day, raising the number of recoveries in the Maharashtra capital to 7,41,500 at a recovery rate of 97 per cent, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a statement. Mumbai is now left with 2,218 active cases. With 33,462 new tests, the number of samples tested so far in Mumbai went up to 1,24,69,732, it said. (PTI)

20:41 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Morocco to stop all incoming air travel from around the globe

Morocco is suspending all incoming air travel from around the world starting Monday for two weeks because of the rapid spread of the new omicron variant of the virus, the Foreign Ministry announced Sunday. The ministry tweeted that the decision was taken to “preserve the achievements realised by Morocco in the fight against the pandemic, and to protect the health of citizens.” Morocco has been in the forefront of vaccinations in Africa, and kept its borders closed for months in 2020 because of the pandemic. (AP)

20:24 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Maharashtra records 832 Covid-19 cases, 33 deaths

Maharashtra on Sunday reported 832 fresh COVID-19 cases and 33 fatalities, taking the state’s tally to 66,34,444 and toll to 1,40,941, an official said. The discharge of 841 people during the day increased the recovery count to 64,81,640, which is 97.7 per cent of the overall caseload, leaving Maharashtra with an active tally of 8,193, he said, adding that the fatality rate stood at 2.12 per cent. With 1,00,508 samples being examined on Sunday, the number of tests in Maharashtra went up to 6,53,57,358, he added. Mumbai saw 210 new cases and four deaths, which took the tally and toll to 7,62,584 and 16,330, respectively. As per data made available by the state health department, the Mumbai division reported 367 cases and 20 deaths, which took the caseload in this region to 17,11,471 and toll to 35,866. Nashik division saw 132 cases, including 59 in the Ahmednagar district, while Pune division had 240 cases, Kolhapur division 20, Aurangabad and Latur divisions 28 cases each, Nagpur division 10 and Akola division seven. Maharashtra’s COVID-19 figures are as follows: Positive- 66,34,444, deaths- 1,40.941, Recoveries- 64,81,640, Active- 8,193, Total tests- 6,53,57,358, Tests today- 1,00,508. (PTI)

20:12 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Tamil Nadu logs 736 new cases to its Covid-19 tally

Tamil Nadu on Sunday reported 736 fresh coronavirus cases, pushing the total infection count to 27,25,467 while the toll mounted to 36,463 with 9 more deaths. Recoveries marginally outnumbered new cases with 772 people getting discharged in the last 24 hours, aggregating to 26,80,667 leaving 8,337 active infections including those people in isolation, a medical bulletin said. A total of 1,01,446 samples were tested in the last 24 hours, pushing the cumulative number of specimens examined to 5.40 crore. Chennai and Coimbatore accounted for the majority of new infections with 107 and 109 cases, respectively, while the remaining was scattered across other districts. As many as 21 districts reported less than 10 new COVID-19 infections, while three districts Perambalur, Ramanathapuram and Virudhunagar recorded zero new cases, the bulletin said. (PTI)

20:03 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Covid booster advice should come imminently, says UK minister

Britain’s health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he expected to receive advice imminently on whether the government can broaden a booster shot programme to try to weaken the impact of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant. The government announced new measures on Saturday to try to slow the spread of the variant, toughening rules for people arriving into Britain and ordering the use of face masks in retail settings and on transport in England. But ministers also want to ramp up the offer of booster jabs, saying even if vaccines prove to be less effective against Omicron, they should offer better protection against it and reduce the number of hospitalisations and deaths. ‘The other thing that still remains hugely important, but I think it’s fair to say now more important than it was before, is our vaccination programme,’ Javid told Sky News. ‘That is why I have also asked our expert advisers on vaccines called JCVI (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) to give me very quick advice on broadening, boosting our booster programme, and I expect to get that advice imminently.’ 

The discovery of Omicron, dubbed a ‘variant of concern’ last week by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic. Britain has confirmed two cases of the new variant, and Javid said the new measures were needed to buy time for experts to try to understand more about Omicron, which may, or may not, make vaccines less effective. Paul Burton, chief medical officer at Moderna, said if a new vaccine was needed to tackle the variant, ‘I think that’s going to be early 2022 before that’s really going to be available in large quantities’. Javid repeated that it was not as yet clear whether vaccines were less effective against the variant. (Reuters)

19:45 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Delhi records 32 fresh Covid-19 cases, one more death

Delhi on Sunday recorded 32 fresh COVID-19 cases and one death, while the positivity rate stood at 0.06 per cent, according to health department data. The national capital has recorded six deaths due to the viral disease so far this month. Four people had succumbed to COVID-19 in October and five in September. With the new cases, the coronavirus infection tally of the city climbed to 14,40,866. Over 14.15 lakh patients have recovered from the disease, according to the health bulletin. The death toll stands at 25,097, the bulletin said. Authorities conducted 53,515 tests, including 45,268 RT-PCR ones, the previous day. There are 288 active Covid cases in Delhi, of which 115 are in home isolation. The number of containment zones stands at 108, it said. Delhi reported 27 COVID-19 cases and one death on Saturday, 23 cases on Friday and 30 on Thursday. Earlier on Sunday, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights coming to India from countries affected by a new variant of coronavirus, Omicron, with immediate effect. “Our country has fought a tough fight against corona for the last one and half years. With great difficulty and due to the selfless service of millions of our Covid warriors, our country has recovered from coronavirus,” Kejriwal said in his letter. The Centre had on Thursday asked all states and union territories to conduct rigorous screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Hong Kong and Botswana, where cases of Omicron, declared variant of concern by the WHO, have been reported. (PTI)

19:31 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Unvaccinated teaching, non-teaching staff can’t be allowed in schools, says Kerala Education Minister

The Kerala government cannot encourage the attitude of some unvaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff coming to schools, state Education Minister V Sivankutty said on Sunday. He said such the matter will be brought to the attention of the committee, which handles the COVID-19 protocol as it is a matter of safety of the children. “We are not forcing them (staff), but have asked them to stay at home. In the guidelines issued just before the reopening of schools, we have made it very clear that all teaching and non-teaching staff must be inoculated,” Sivankutty told reporters here. Some teachers have been coming to schools without taking the vaccine doses, despite instructions from the authorities. “The state government and the education department cannot in any manner support their decision not to take vaccines. A majority of teachers are in support of the vaccination and have followed the procedure. This is a matter of safety of our children and our state,” Sivankutty added. He noted that around 5,000 teaching and non-teaching staff have not been vaccinated yet. The schools in the state were reopened on November 1 after being shut for more than a one-and-a-half years due to COVID pandemic. The Minister said those who cannot take the vaccine due to health issues must notify the concerned authorities. He also urged the public to stand with the state government to ensure the safety of the society. (PTI)

19:10 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Denmark records Omicron variant in two passengers from South Africa

Denmark has registered two cases of the new Omicron coronavirus variant in travelers from South Africa, the country’s infectious disease authority said in a statement on Sunday. “This was to be expected, and our strategy is therefore to continue intensive monitoring of the infection in the country,” Henrik Ullum, director of the State Serum Institute, said. The two persons, traveling to Denmark by plane, have been put in isolation and authorities are tracing any close contacts. (Reuters)

18:50 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Kerala logs 4,350 new Covid-19 cases, 159 deaths

Kerala on Sunday recorded 4,350 fresh COVID-19 infections and 159 fatalities, which raised the total caseload to 51,21,880 and the toll to 39,838. With 5,691 more people recovering from the virus since Saturday, the total recoveries reached 50,46,219 and the active cases dropped to 47,001, a state government press release said. Among the 14 districts, Ernakulam recorded the highest with 823 cases, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (670) and Kozhikode (554). Of the 159 deaths, 19 were reported over the last few days and 140 were designated as COVID-19 deaths after receiving appeals based on the new guidelines of the Centre and the directions of the Supreme Court, the release said. As many as 48,112 samples were tested in the last 24 hours, it said. Of the new cases, 18 were health workers, 11 from outside the state and 4,049 infected through contact, with the source of it not being clear in 272 There are currently 1,62,218 people under surveillance in various districts, of whom 1,57,543 are in home or institutional quarantine and 4,675 in hospitals, the release said. (PTI) 

18:24 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: China could see ‘colossal outbreak’ of COVID-19 if it opens up like US, France: Study

China is expected to continue its much-criticised Zero COVID policy, shutting the country to most of the world as a new study has warned of a “colossal outbreak” with over 6.30 lakh patients per day if it opens up. According to a report by the Peking University mathematicians, China could face more than 630,000 coronavirus infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance approach and followed other countries by lifting travel bans. “The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly put an unbearable burden on the medical system,” the report said. China on Saturday reported 23 new COVID-19 cases, including 20 imported ones as the country appears to have contained a recent spike of infections in Beijing and other cities. China, where the coronavirus first surfaced in Wuhan in late 2019 before it turned into a pandemic, has so far reported 98,631 cases and 4,636 deaths, the National Health Commission said on Sunday. This included 785 patients still receiving treatment. On Saturday, Chinese top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan warned that the new and more contagious coronavirus variant Omicron, reported in South Africa causing global alarm, may cause more challenges to the work of preventing and controlling the pandemic as the World Health Organization (WHO) said it carries a large number of mutations. On the new variant, Chinese experts believe there is no need to panic as the large number of mutations does not necessarily indicate high infectivity, and China, with a strict and experienced epidemic prevention and control system, is able to protect domestic residents from the new variant, a Global Times report said. In a report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the four mathematicians from Peking University argued that China was not ready and could not afford to lift entry-exit quarantine measures without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatment. Currently, people arriving from abroad have to undergo a 21-day quarantine in designated hotels. (PTI) 

18:06 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: UK makes face masks compulsory in England shops

Face coverings will become a compulsory requirement in shops and public transport in England from Tuesday, the UK government said on Sunday as part of the tighter COVID-19 curbs being enforced in response to two cases of the new Omicron variant detected in the country. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the requirement of compulsory PCR tests to be taken by all overseas arrivals into the UK will also be enforced “as soon as possible”. The minister asserted that he expects all the new measures, being introduced to give scientists more time to analyse the infectiousness and vaccine-resistance levels of Omicron, to be lifted again ‘within weeks’. ‘The reason we’ve set out these measures yesterday is to protect the progress we’ve made so we can all continue to enjoy Christmas with our families,’ said Javid, with reference to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announcement of the stricter curbs from Downing Street on Saturday evening. (PTI)

17:41 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Centre to review decision on restarting international flights

The government on Sunday decided to review the decision on resuming scheduled commercial international passenger services as well SOP on testing and surveillance of incoming passengers, especially from countries identified as ‘at risk’, in the wake of the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant of concern ‘Omicron’. The decisions were taken at an urgent meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and attended by various stakeholders, an official spokesperson said. The meeting was held a day after a high-level review by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the new COVID-19 variant of concern ‘Omicron’. After a long hiatus of more than 20 months, the government had on November 26 announced the resumption of scheduled international commercial flights from December 15. The home ministry spokesperson said at the meeting, chaired by the home secretary, the overall global situation in the wake of the Omicron virus was comprehensively reviewed and various preventive measures in place and to be further strengthened were discussed. The government will review the decision on the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services as per evolving global scenario, the spokesperson said. The new, potentially more contagious B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) from South Africa on November 24 and has also been identified in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel. It was on Friday designated as a “Variant of Concern” by the WHO, which named it Omicron. A variant of concern is the WHO’s top category of worrying COVID-19 variants. “Government to review Standard Operating Procedure on testing and surveillance of incoming international passengers, especially for those countries identified ‘at risk’ category,” the spokesperson said in a series of tweets. The government has also decided that the genomic surveillance for variants will be further strengthened and intensified and Airport Health Officials (APHOs) and Port Health Officials (PHOs) will be sensitised for strict supervision of testing protocol at airports and seaports. “Decision on effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passengers service, to be reviewed, as per evolving global scenario,” the spokesperson said. A closer watch on the emerging pandemic situation within the country will be maintained, the spokesperson said. The meeting was held with various experts including V K Paul, Member (Health), NITI Aayog, Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Prime Minister, senior officers from Health, Civil Aviation and other Ministries. (PTI)

17:29 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: 62 inmates of Thane old age home test Covid-19 positive

Sixty two inmates of an old age home in Maharashtra’s Thane district have tested positive for the coronavirus infection and all of them have been admitted to a civil hospital here, a senior health official said on Sunday. Following complaints of ill-health by a couple of inmates, a team of doctors on Saturday tested 109 inmates of the ‘Matoshree’ old age home located at Khadavali in Bhiwandi taluka, district health officer Dr Manish Renge told PTI. Out of them, the results of 61 came out positive, he said, adding that another inmate had tested positive for the viral infection on Friday. These 62 inmates, all above 60 years of age, have been admitted to the Thane Civil Hospital for treatment, the official said. Five relatives of some of these inmates also tested positive for the coronavirus and they too were admitted to the civil hospital, he said. The district administration was keeping a tab on the health of these inmates and taking due steps to check further spread of the infection, he added. (PTI)

16:53 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Urgent meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary

  • Urgent meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary after review of situation by PM Modi in wake of new COVID variant ‘Omicron’: MHA
  • Global situation in wake of Omicron variant reviewed at meet chaired by Home Secy, Strengthening of preventive measures discussed: MHA
  • Govt to review SOP on testing, surveillance of international passengers, especially from countries identified as ‘at risk’ category:MHA
  • Genomic surveillance for COVID variants to be further strengthened and intensified: MHA
  • Decision on effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial int’l passenger services to be reviewed with evolving global scenario: MHA
      

16:11 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Omicron reportedly has 30+ mutations in spike protein region, may bypass vaccines: AIIMS chief

The new Omicron variant of coronavirus has reportedly got over 30 mutations in the spike protein region giving it the potential to develop a immunoescape mechanism, and thus the efficacy of vaccines against it needs to be evaluated critically, AIIMS chief Dr Randeep Guelria has said. The presence of spike protein facilitates a virus’ entry into the host cell and is responsible for making it transmissible and causing infection. “The new variant of coronavirus reportedly has got more than 30 mutations at the spike protein region and therefore has the potential of developing immunoescape mechanisms. As most vaccines (work by) forming antibodies against the spike protein, so many mutations at the spike protein region may lead to a decreased efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines,” AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guelria told PTI. In such a scenario, the efficacy of vaccines including those in use in India needs to be evaluated “critically”, he said. The future course of action will depend on what more data on its transmissibility, virulence and immunoescpae shows, he said. – PTI

15:52 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Regularly monitoring COVID-19 situation in Haryana, says CM Khattar

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said he has been regularly monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the state and there has been no significant jump in cases. He also said authorities are alert in the wake of the new Covid-19 variant ‘Omicron’ reported in some countries. Asked if any advisory has been issued following the detection of Omicron, Khattar said the state’s ‘Mahamari Alert-Surakshit Haryana’ is already in place, under which relaxations are either given or curtailed from time to time depending on the prevailing COVID-19 situation. The state government has termed the lockdown ‘Mahamari Alert-Surakshit Haryana (Epidemic Alert-Safe Haryana)’. The restrictions were imposed on May 3, 2021, and subsequently extended from time to time. The curbs have been extended till December 31. – PTI

15:30 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Amid Omicron scare ahead of Christmas-New Year season, Goa’s tourism sector adopts ‘wait and watch’ policy

Ahead of the world-renowned Christmas-New Year celebrations in Goa, the tourism sector in the state is keenly watching the likely impact of a new coronavirus variant that was detected in southern Africa recently and one which the World Health Organisation has christened ‘Omicron’ and labeled a ‘Variant of Concern’, stakeholders said on Sunday. They said chartered flights and international services bringing in foreign tourists start arriving by the middle of December, heralding what the sector is expecting to be another fruitful season post a robust one during Diwali as the coastal state became the preferred destination for domestic travelers after the COVID-19 pandemic ebbed. “We are waiting and watching. Till now, at least, there is no impact (of Omicron) but we will have to wait and watch all the developments over the next 15 days. If cases go up, then protocols will have to be adhered to even more strictly,” Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president Nilesh Shah told PTI.

15:20 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: UK expects to receive COVID booster advice imminently, says health minister

Britain’s health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he expected to receive advice imminently on whether the government can broaden a booster jab programme to try to tackle the emergence of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant.”The other thing that still remains hugely important, but I think it’s fair to say now more important than it was before, is our vaccination programme,” Javid told Sky News.”That is why I have also asked our expert advisers on vaccines called JCVI (the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) to give me very quick advice on broadening, boosting our booster programme and I expect to get that advice imminently.” – Reuters

15:00 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: All social & cultural events, conferences, seminars, academic events may be postponed for 2 months: Karnataka govt

All social & cultural events, conferences, seminars, academic events, etc. in educational institutions may be postponed for 2 months: Karnataka govt in an advisory following recent COVID-19 clusters in Mysuru, Dharwad, & Bengaluru.

14:52 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Israel will host Miss Universe contest as scheduled despite Omicron, minister says

Israel will host the Miss Universe beauty pageant on Dec 12 despite imposing travel restrictions in a bid to stave off the Omicron strain of the coronavirus, Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov said on Sunday.He said participants in the contest, to be held in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, will be granted waivers from the curbs. Israel announced on Saturday it was banning the entry of foreigners into the country. – Reuters

14:42 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Austria reports first suspected cases of Omicron COVID-19 variant

Austria has detected its first suspected case of the new Omicron coronavirus variant in the Tirol, authorities in the alpine region said late on Saturday.A traveller who returned from South Africa last week tested positive for COVID-19 with indications of the new variant, though confirmation requires further sequencing over the coming days, Tirol authorities said in a statement.South Africa’s discovery of the variant has sparked global concern, a wave of travel bans or curbs and a sell-off on financial markets on investor fears that it could stall recovery from the pandemic. – Reuters

14:19 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan writes to all States/UTs over the Omicron variant

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan writes to all States/UTs over the Omicron variant of COVID19, asks them to enforce intensive containment & active surveillance measures and also increase coverage of vaccination

13:59 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Kejriwal writes to PM Modi to stop flights from countries affected by new Covid variant

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to stop flights coming to India from countries affected by a new variant of coronavirus with immediate effect. “Our country has fought a tough fight against corona for the last one and half years. With great difficulty and due to the selfless service of millions of our Covid warriors, our country has recovered from coronavirus,” he wrote in the letter. In view of the new Covid variant, a number of countries, including the European Union, have suspended travel to the affected regions, he said. “We should do everything possible to prevent the new variant of concern, recently recognised by the WHO, from entering India… I urge you to stop flights from these regions with immediate effect. Any delay in this regard may prove harmful, if any affected person enters India,” the letter read. – PTI

13:44 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Swiss vote on COVID law amid sharp rise in infections

Swiss voters were having their say in a referendum Sunday on legislation which imposed the use of a special COVID-19 certificate that lets only people who have been vaccinated, recovered or tested negative attend public events and gatherings. The vote offers a relatively rare bellwether of public opinion specifically on the issue of government policy to fight the coronavirus in Europe, currently the global epicenter of the pandemic. – AP

13:34 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Singapore tracking Omicron COVID-19 variant ‘very closely’: PM Lee

Singapore is tracking the emerging Omicron COVID-19 variant ‘very closely’ and could be forced to take a few steps back again before moving ahead with easing of safety measures and opening up the economy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday. The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Friday declared Omicron “a variant of concern”, putting it in the same category as the Delta variant that has caused waves of infection to sweep across the globe and forcing several European countries to re-enter lockdown. The new variant is considered potentially more dangerous because it has around twice as many mutations as Delta, but experts say how much of a concern is still under investigation. Omicron, also called B.1.1.529, has also been detected in Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong, and possibly in Germany and the Czech Republic. – PTI

13:29 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: COVID variant spreads to more countries as world on alert

The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in more European countries on Saturday, just days after being identified in South Africa, leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread. The UK on Saturday tightened its rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two cases. New cases were confirmed Saturday in Germany and Italy, with Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong also reporting that the variant has been found in travelers. In the US, Dr Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, said he would not be surprised if the omicron variant was already in the United States, too. – AP

12:37 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: South Africans who were COVID-19 positive were infected with Delta variant: Official

The two South African nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 were found to be infected with the delta variant, an official said. Both the South African nationals were infected with the delta variant, the Bengaluru Rural district official said requesting anonymity. He further said the duo was tested positive on November 11 and November 20 debunking the fear of any possible spread of the new COVID-19 variant ‘Omicron’, which has become a new cause of worry globally. According to him, from November 1 to 26, 94 people had come from South Africa, out of them two were tested positive for regular Covid-19. The official also said the two infected persons have been quarantined, are being monitored by the authorities and their samples have been sent for further tests to ascertain the variant. – PTI

12:25 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: Israel bans entry of foreigners from all countries over Omicron

Israel has banned the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in response to a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant, and said it would use counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology in order to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that the ban would last 14 days. Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization. “Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told N12’s “Meet the Press,” “and that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.” Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, will be required to quarantine, Bennett said. – Reuters

11:54 (IST)28 Nov 2021
Coronavirus Live Tracker: China study warns of ‘colossal’ COVID outbreak if it opens up like U.S., France

China could face more than 630,000 COVID-19 infections a day if it dropped its zero-tolerance policies by lifting travel curbs, according to a study by Peking University mathematicians.In the report published in China CDC Weekly by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the mathematicians said China could not afford to lift travel restrictions without more efficient vaccinations or specific treatments.Using data for August from the United States, Britain, Spain, France and Israel, the mathematicians assessed the potential results if China adopted the same pandemic control tactics as those countries.China’s daily new cases would reach at least 637,155 if it adopted the United States’ pandemic strategy, the report said.And daily cases would hit 275,793 if China took the same approach as Britain and 454,198 if it imitated France, it said.”The estimates revealed the real possibility of a colossal outbreak which would almost certainly induce an unaffordable burden on the medical system,” the report said. – Reuters

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