Coronavirus updates | Medical oxygen output capacity in the country rises to over 8,000 tonnes

A traveller looks at the flight information board at the Miami International Airport on September 20, 2021 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Getty Images via AFP  

India reported 26,115 new cases of COVID-19, according to Health Ministry data as of 0800 IST on September 21. The daily tally of cases slipped below the 30,000-mark after five days. This has taken the total number of cases in India to 33.5 million. The death toll has risen to 445,385, with 252 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the developments:


Medical oxygen output capacity in the country rises to over 8,000 tonnes a day from 6,000 tonnes last year

The production capacity for liquid medical oxygen, which was in huge demand during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, has increased to over 8,000 tonnes per day now, from 6,000 tonnes per day last year, a senior government official said on Tuesday.

Additional Secretary in the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) Sumita Dawra said the supply of oxygen for medical purposes was enhanced almost 10 times from 1,000 tonnes per day in December 2019 to 9,600 tonnes per day in May this year.- PTI


Serum Institute of India to supply nearly 22 crore doses of Covishield vaccine to Centre in October

The Serum Institute of India has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply around 22 crore doses of Covishield vaccines in October as the Union government has announced resuming export of surplus Covid vaccines in the coming fourth quarter under the 'Vaccine Maitri' programme, official sources said

The Pune-based pharmaceutical company has enhanced the manufacturing capacity of Covishield to more than 20 crore doses per month.

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United Kingdom

External Affairs minister urges U.K. to resolve COVID quarantine dispute

External Affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday urged Britain to remove a rule requiring Indians visiting there to quarantine even if they are fully vaccinated.

India's Covishield vaccine, developed by AstraZeneca and manufactured in India by Pune-based Serum Institute, is not recognised by Britain under new rules despite being identical to the doses given to millions of Britons.

The rules, that come into effect next month, have caused anger, with many Indians branding the decision as discriminatory. Britons vaccinated in the United Kingdom with the same Indian-made doses are not required to quarantine.

"Urged early resolution of quarantine issue in mutual interest," Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar said in a tweet after a meeting with his British counterpart Liz Truss in New York, where both are attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The British High Commission (embassy) in New Delhi said the United Kingdom was working with India to resolve the issue.- Reuters

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Tamil Nadu

Export vaccines only after fully vaccinating all in the country: TN Health Minister urges Union Health Ministry

The Union Health Ministry should consider exporting COVID-19 vaccines only after fully vaccinating all eligible individuals in the country, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said on Tuesday.

A day after the Union Health Minister announced that export of vaccines manufactured in the country would resume in October, Mr. Subramanian said of India’s total population of nearly 139 crore, 70% were aged above 18 years, meaning about 97.30 crore were eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. Considering that two doses should be administered, 194.60 crore doses were required in total to fully vaccinate the eligible population.

He pointed out that no vaccination camps were held in Tamil Nadu on Monday and Tuesday due to scarcity of vaccines.

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Calls grow among experts in Singapore for a vaccine mandate as COVID-19 spikes

Some health experts in Singapore are calling for mandatory vaccination against the coronavirus with a growing toll of severe COVID-19 among unvaccinated people as infections surge and with vaccine take-up plateauing at 82% of the population.

The government has linked reopening to vaccination targets but it paused the easing of restrictions this month to watch for signs that severe infections could overwhelm the health system.

"I would love to see vaccine mandates in over 60s, they are the group most likely to die," said Dale Fisher, an infectious disease expert at the National University Hospital in Singapore. - Reuters


Japan's land prices fall as COVID-19 hurts tourism, domestic demand

Japanese land prices fell for the second straight year as the country's closed borders and state of emergency curbs to combat the coronavirus pandemic hit demand for new restaurants and hotels, an annual government survey showed.

In a sign the pandemic is reshaping the economy, however, land prices for industrial areas rose for the fourth straight year on booming demand for warehouses to stock up on electronic appliances and other goods catering to stay-at-home demand. - Reuters


Antibodies from original Covid virus strain don't bind to variants: Study

People infected with the original strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 early in the pandemic produced antibodies that don't bind well to newer variants, according to a study.

The finding, published in the journal Nature Communications, has implications for the ability of new variants to reinfect people who contracted earlier versions of the virus, as well as for the continuing efficacy of vaccines and the design of booster shots.

The researchers mined published papers about COVID-19 patients for data about the sequence of the antibodies they produced. - PTI

New Zealand

New Zealand increases fines for COVID-19 rule breakers

New Zealand on Friday announced higher fines of up to $8,400 for individuals breaching coronavirus restrictions amid concerns that the current outbreak may spread beyond Auckland to other regions due to people breaking rules.

"Our success has been really based on the fact that people by and large have been compliant," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.

"However, there has been the odd person that has broken the rules and put others at risk," she said. - Reuters


Chinese city orders spas, mahjong salons to shut after COVID-19 case confirmed

Spas, cinemas and mahjong salons in the Chinese city of Harbin were ordered to close on Tuesday to prevent COVID-19 spreading in poorly ventilated spaces, state television reported. The temporary shutdowns were part of a range of restrictions imposed on the northeastern city after one case of community transmission, the report said, citing the Harbin government.

Religious activities were also suspended, tourist attractions were ordered to operate at half capacity, and visits were banned at retirement homes.

The restrictions come as China celebrates the mid-moon festival on Tuesday, and ahead of the National Day golden week holiday starting on October 1, a time of increased travel and social interaction. - Reuters


Active cases lowest in 184 days

India added 26,115 new cases of coronavirus  infection in a single day taking the total tally to 3,35,04,534, while the active cases declined to 3,09,575, the lowest in 184 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on September 21.

The death toll climbed to 4,45,385 with 252 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 a.m.

The active cases comprise 0.92% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, the ministry said, adding the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.75%. - PTI


China keeps virus at bay at high cost ahead of Olympics

The Beizhong International Travel Agency in the eastern city of Tianjin has had only one customer since coronavirus outbreaks that began in July prompted Chinese leaders to renew city lockdowns and travel controls.

Most of China is virus-free, but the abrupt, severe response to outbreaks has left would-be tourists jittery about traveling to places they might be barred from leaving. That has hit consumer spending, hindering efforts to keep the economic recovery on track.

China's “zero tolerance” strategy of trying to isolate every case and stop transmission has helped keep the country where the virus first was detected in late 2019 largely free of disease. But the public and businesses are paying a steep price. -AP

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U.S. announces new international travel system; only fully vaccinated individuals to be allowed

The United States on September 20 announced a new international travel system under which fully vaccinated individuals, including from India, would be allowed to enter the country beginning early November.

Former president Donald Trump had imposed a blanket ban on foreign travellers from entering the U.S. at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020. The new system essentially lifts the travel ban on countries like India that the U.S. had earlier enforced.

Vaccinated people from countries like India can now travel to the U.S. with proof of their vaccination before they start flying for the United States, White House officials said. - PTI

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New York City to conduct weekly COVID-19 tests in schools

New York City will begin conducting weekly, random COVID-19 tests of unvaccinated students in the nation’s largest school district in an attempt to more quickly spot outbreaks in classrooms.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made the announcement on September 20, a day after the city’s teachers’ union sent de Blasio a letter calling for weekly testing instead of biweekly testing in the district with about a million students.

The mayor also announced also a change in quarantine rules for schools, no longer requiring unvaccinated students to quarantine at home if they were masked and at least 3 feet away from someone who tested positive for the coronavirus. - AP


Olympic gold medalist Madison Wilson hospitalized for COVID

Olympic gold medal swimmer Madison Wilson of Australia has been hospitalized for treatment of COVID-19.

Wilson, who is fully vaccinated, was forced to withdraw from the International Swim League competition in Naples, Italy because of the diagnosis. Wilson wrote on her Instagram account that she was “moved into hospital for further care and observation.” She said a full recovery is expected.

“I’m taking some time to rest and I’m sure I’ll be ready to bounce back in no time,” Wilson said in a post on September 19, which included a picture from her hospital bed as well as a video from her ISL teammates. - AP


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Printable version | Oct 28, 2021 12:03:05 PM |

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