Coronavirus updates | December 3, 2021

The total number of COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 125.65 crore on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said

Updated - December 03, 2021 09:50 pm IST

Published - December 03, 2021 08:23 am IST

Passengers waiting to get Rapid PCR test for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure against the spread of Omicron. A scene at Chennai International Airport on December 2, 2021

Passengers waiting to get Rapid PCR test for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure against the spread of Omicron. A scene at Chennai International Airport on December 2, 2021

The Indian SARS-COV-2 genome consortium (INSACOG), which confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant, in an advisory made public on Thursday, has recommended that boosters (or third doses) “be considered” in those above 40.

India has confirmed two cases of the  Omicron variant  of coronavirus in Karnataka. One is a 66-year-old South African national and the second, a 46-year-old Indian doctor from Bengaluru. Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj S. Bommai on Thursday said he will discuss the matter in a high-level meeting in Bengaluru on Friday and take the next course of action.

Editorial | Limited gains: On Omicron risk

Zydus Cadila's COVID-19 vaccine ZyCoV-D will be initially introduced in seven States including Bihar, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, said Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on Thursday. These States have been asked to identify the districts with high number of the first dose left out, for introduction of the vaccine.

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 latest developments :


Two doses mandatory for parents of children going to schools, colleges

With two confirmed cases of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus in Karnataka, the State Government has made two doses of vaccination mandatory for parents of children aged below 18 years who are going to schools and colleges.

After a three-hour-long meeting chaired by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai with Ministers and senior officials on December 3, the government made two doses of COVID-19 vaccination mandatory to people seeking entry to malls, cinema halls or theatres.

It had already made two doses of vaccination mandatory for people working in hotels, restaurants, cinemas, swimming pools, public libraries, zoo, and botanical gardens.



Mizoram to issue new guidelines on Omicron Covid variant

The Mizoram government is likely to soon come out with new guidelines on tackling the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, a health department official said. The state-level expert team on COVID-19 management has submitted draft guidelines to the government to screen and monitor people coming from abroad, he said.

The new regulations will also include suggestions on Covid appropriate behaviour for such travellers, the official, who is a member of the team, said. - PTI


Karnataka CM to chair high-level meeting to discuss 'Omicron' variant, new guidelines likely

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai will be chairing a meeting with experts, senior Ministers and officials on Friday in the wake of two cases of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus detected in the state, during which a new guidelines aimed at controlling its spread is likely to be formulated.

The meeting is scheduled for Friday afternoon, after the Chief Minister returns from his Delhi trip.

"An emergency meeting has been convened tomorrow with experts and senior officers. The meeting would discuss the measures to prevent the spread of new variant of Covid and the strategies to control it. The issue would be discussed with experts of the union government as well. Action would be taken to formulate new guidelines," Bommai was quoted as saying in a statement by his office, late on Thursday. - PTI


South Africa hit by fourth COVID wave driven by Omicron

South Africa is being hit by a fourth wave of COVID-19 infections driven by the Omicron variant which has been detected in seven of the country's nine provinces, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said on Friday.

Omicron, which has raised global fears of a surge in infections, was first detected in southern Africa last month and has prompted governments across continents to impose travel curbs and take other measures to contain it.

Phaahla told a media briefing that he hoped that the variant could be managed without causing too many deaths.

He urged South Africans to get fully vaccinated, adding that the country could manage the fourth wave without stricter lockdown restrictions over Christmas. - Reuters


Sri Lanka detects Omicron variant 

Sri Lanka’s health authorities on Friday reported the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in a Sri Lankan national with a recent travel history abroad.

Following the detection of the Omicron variant in South Africa, Sri Lankan authorities barred passengers travelling from or transiting via six countries — South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, and Eswatini (Swaziland) — in the past 14 days. However, health officials and experts in Sri Lanka had indicated that the variant may have already entered Sri Lanka, and that closing borders alone could not prevent it from entering the country.


Tamil Nadu

Two travellers from Singapore, UK, test COVID-19 positive in TN, samples sent for genomic sequencing

Two travellers, who had come to Tamil Nadu from Singapore and the United Kingdom, were isolated at government hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19 on arrival in the State. While their samples were sent for genomic sequencing to identify the variant involved, their family members, co-passengers who were seated in front of and behind them on their flights and flight staff, are being tested and are in quarantine, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said on Friday.

A man, who had arrived at the international airport in Tiruchi at 3.30 a.m. on Friday, tested positive for COVID-19. He was isolated at a special ward at the K.A.P. Viswanathan Government Medical College Hospital, the Minister told reporters on Friday.



Consider booster dose for those above 40: INSACOG

Top Indian genome scientists have recommended a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccines for those above 40 years with preference to high-risk and high-exposure population.

The recommendation was made in the weekly bulletin of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Sequencing Consortium (INSACOG), a network of national testing labs set up by the government to monitor genomic variations of COVID-19.

"Vaccination of all remaining unvaccinated at-risk people and consideration of a booster dose for those 40 years of age and over, first targeting the most high-risk / high-exposure may be considered," the INSACOG bulletin said. - PTI


Roche develops new research test kits for Omicron variant

Roche's newly acquired subsidiary TIB Molbiol has developed three new test kits to help researchers detect mutations in the new Omicron variant of coronavirus, Roche said on Friday.

Governments around the world are urgently scouring databases for recent cases of COVID-19 infections, screening travellers and decoding the viral genomes of the new variant as they try to measure how far it has spread.

"We are able to offer a test that can specifically identify the novel B.1.1.529 Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant to help better understand its spread and behaviour," Thomas Schinecker, head of Roche Diagnostics, said in a statement. - Reuters


WHO says measures against delta variant work for omicron coronavirus too

World Health Organisation (WHO) officials in the Western Pacific say border closures adopted by some countries may buy time to deal with the omicron coronavirus variant , but measures put in place and experience gained in dealing with the delta variant should remain the foundation for fighting the pandemic.

While a few regional countries are facing surges, COVID-19 cases and deaths in many others have decreased and plateaued, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific Dr. Takeshi Kasai told reporters on Friday in a virtual news conference broadcast from Manila, Philippines. - AP



COVID-19 hits Junior Hockey World Cup, one person tests positive

COVID-19 hit the ongoing FIH Junior Hockey World Cup here after an incident-free week with one positive case being reported on December 3.

Despite being held inside a bio-bubble and all media persons covering the event subjected to RT-PCR tests every 48 hours, one person, who has been accessing the media centre at the Kalinga Stadium, tested positive in RT-PCR test conducted on December 2.

According to a member of the local organising committee, the person who tested positive is a social media team member of Department of Sports and Youth Services (DSYS), Odisha government. - PTI



Omicron: Close to 500 primary, secondary contacts of first two cases in India traced and tested

Close to 500 primary and secondary contacts of the first two cases of Omicron , the most mutated variant of COVID-19 virus, detected in India have been traced and five have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a document viewed by The Hindu . The contacts have been isolated and further investigations are on.

The men (46 and 66) are the first cases of the variant in India . According to the document, the 66-year-old double-vaccinated man who travelled with a negative report from South Africa had his sample collected at the Karnataka airport, on November 20, after which he checked into a hotel.



Active COVID-19 cases in country increase to 99,976

With 9,216 coronavirus infections being reported in a day, the country's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,46,15,757, while the active cases increased to 99,976, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday.

The death toll climbed to 4,70,115  with 391 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The daily rise  in new coronavirus infections has been less than 50,000 for 159 consecutive days now.

The active cases comprise 0.29% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.35%, the ministry said. -PTI


Nepal to ban arrivals from 8 African countries, Hong Kong over Omicron fears

Nepal will ban the entry of travellers who have been in eight African countries or Hong Kong, to curb the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, a government spokesman said on Friday.

The ban, which goes into effect at midnight on Friday, covers people who have been in or transiting through South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi and Hong Kong. -Reuters


Omicron may have been in Karnataka much earlier: Experts

With one of the two persons in Bengaluru who have been detected with the Omicron variant having no travel history, COVID-19 experts here said that the variant could have been introduced to Karnataka much earlier.

Sources said the 46-year-old anaesthetist from a Government hospital in South Bengaluru, who did not have any travel history, had attended a two-day cardiology conference that was held at a five-star hotel near the Chief Minister’s home office from November 19.


Tamil Nadu

Man on flight from Singapore tests positive, isolated in Tiruchi

A 56-year-old man who landed at the Tiruchi International Airport early on Friday morning tested COVID-19 positive and has been isolated. His test samples would be sent for genome sequencing to identify the variant of virus.

The patient's samples will be sent to Chennai where genome sequencing would be done to determine the variant. -T.N. Bureau


South African man left hotel for Dubai before genome sequencing results

The city and State health machinery is on high alert after two persons tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus in Bengaluru. The authorities have no clear answer as to how one of the patients, a 66-year-old African national who was isolated in a hotel on November 20, was allowed to fly to Dubai on November 27.



Schools to function as usual

Amidst fears of the Omicron strain of the coronavirus spreading after two cases were reported in Bengaluru, the Department of Public Instruction on Thursday stated that schools will continue as usual for now.

R. Vishal, Commissioner for Public Instruction, said they would follow whatever the Technical Advisory Committee advises. “We are keeping a close watch on schools and taking all precautionary measures. We believe the benefit of conducting offline classes for students has been immense,” he said.



New U.S. COVID-19 international travel testing rules take effect Monday

New rules requiring international air travelers arriving in the United States to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel will take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET (0501 GMT), U.S. officials confirmed Thursday.

Under current rules, vaccinated international air travelers can present a negative test result obtained within three days of their day of departure. Unvaccinated travelers currently must get a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure. -Reuters


WHO deploys team in South Africa to tackle Omicron variant

The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed a team of officials to South Africa's Gauteng province, the epicentre of the new Omicron coronavirus variant, for ramping up surveillance measures and contact tracing efforts as the country grapples with rising infections, an official said on Thursday.

Some 11,500 new infections were registered in the latest daily figures, a sharp rise from the 8,500 cases confirmed the previous day. -PTI


Singapore says 2 travellers from South Africa tested "preliminarily positive" for Omicron

Two travellers from South Africa have tested "preliminarily positive" for the Omicron variant of COVID-19 after landing in Singapore, the Ministry of Health has said.

Two passengers who arrived in Singapore from South Africa on a Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight SQ479 have tested "preliminarily positive" for the Omicron variant on Wednesday, the MOH here said on Thursday. -PTI


Germany locks unvaccinated out of public life

Unvaccinated people across Germany will soon be excluded from nonessential stores, restaurants and sports and cultural venues, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Thursday, and parliament will consider a general vaccine mandate as part of efforts to curb coronavirus infections.

Ms. Merkel announced the measures after a meeting with federal and state leaders, as the nation again topped 70,000 newly confirmed cases in a 24-hour period. She said the steps were necessary to address concerns that hospitals could become overloaded with patients suffering from COVID-19 infections, which are much more likely to be serious in people who have not been vaccinated.



Vigilance, genome sequencing, border surveillance and vaccination key things against Omicron: Expert

A member of the Maharashtra government's COVID-19 task force on Thursday said that vigilance, genome sequencing, improving border surveillance and vaccination are some of the things that are necessary to tackle the new Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The task force member, Dr Vasant Nagvekar, who is a consultant on infectious diseases at a city-based hospital, said in a statement that although there was no need to panic, the Omicron variant is definitely a cause of concern. -PTI

Spain | Zimbabwe

Spain and Zimbabwe detect first domestic cases of COVID-19 Omicron variant

Regional authorities in Madrid said on Thursday they had detected Spain's first domestic case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant in a vaccinated person without links to risk countries, and were investigating two other similar suspected cases. It was the fourth confirmed case of the variant in Spain, but the first proving that Omicron is already circulating in the country.

Zimbabwe's Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, who is also the health minister, says the southern African country has recorded the omicron variant, making it the fifth African country to report its presence after Botswana, South Africa, Ghana and Nigeria. -Reuters, AP


Five more travellers from 'at risk' countries test COVID-19 positive in Mumbai; nine so far

Five more persons, who arrived in Mumbai from 'at risk countries' tested positive for COVID-19 infection on Thursday amid concerns over the new Omicron variant of the virus, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials said.

The civic body's additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said the number such travellers who have tested positive on arrival in the city and who are suspected to have been infected with the Omicron variant, increased to nine. -PTI

Dadra and Nagar Haveli |  Daman and Diu

Night curfew in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu till December 31

A night curfew has been imposed in the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of coronavirus in view of the concerns over the new Omicron variant of the virus, an official said on Thursday.

Starting Thursday, the night curfew will be force between 11 pm and 6 am till December 31, said the order issued by the Health and Family Welfare department of the Union Territory administration. -PTI


Canada confirms first Covid cases in wildlife

Canada has confirmed its first cases of coronavirus in wildlife -- in three white-tailed deer.

The National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease said the samples were collected in early November from the free-ranging animals in the Estrie region of Quebec along the border with the United States.

"Similar to findings in the United States, the deer showed no evidence of clinical signs of disease, and were all apparently healthy," the agency said in a statement late Wednesday. -AFP

Andhra Pradesh

School children in A.P. to be given homoeo medicine under ‘Project Amrut’

The preventive homoeo medicine, ‘Arsenicum Album 30 C’, prescribed by the Ayush Ministry has been effective in tackling the COVID-19 infection, according to V. Ramulu, Commissioner, State Ayush Department.

Mr. Ramulu was speaking after inaugurating ‘Project Amrut’ at KSR ZP Girls High School here.

Under the programme being supported by Vidhu Foundation, an NGO, the medicine would be distributed to the students and teachers in the government educational institutions in the State.



Cricket South Africa postpones domestic fixtures due to COVID-19, adds to uncertainty around India series

Cricket South Africa has postponed a round of domestic games after some of the team members tested COVID-19 positive on arrival, raising fresh  concerns for the India tour  later this month.

The BCCI will soon take a call on the tour, which is scheduled to begin with the first Test in Johannesburg from December 17.



Maharashtra issues guidelines for air passengers

In the wake of the confusion over the different set of guidelines for air passengers arriving in Maharashtra by the State Government and the Centre, the former on Thursday issued a set of guidelines clarifying all domestic passengers coming to the State will either have to be fully vaccinated or should carry RTPCR test certificate showing negative result within 72 hours before boarding.

The State Government categorised South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe as the “high risk countries” adding that it is a dynamic exercise based on the evolving situation of the Omicron variant and hence will be updated as required by the State Government. The State has directed authorities to follow guidelines for other countries as specified by the Centre.


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