Coronavirus updates | December 2, 2021

Students of Gurukul Art school paint posters in the wake of rising Omicron variant of coronavirus at Lalbaug, Maharashtra on November 29, 2021.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Around 12 crore people are still due for their second COVID-19 vaccine dose across the country. The cumulative number of vaccine doses administered in the country crossed 125 crore on Thursday. Out of this, 79.13 crore (84.3%) people have been vaccinated for the first dose and 45.82 crore (49%) received the second dose as per the provisional report.

Read | Tighter curbs prove costly to travellers

The World Health Organization expects to have more information on the transmissibility of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus within days, its technical lead on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said in a briefing on Wednesday. The WHO said on Tuesday that those not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including people over 60 years of age, who are also vulnerable to the disease should put off travel to areas with community transmission.

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:

Uttar Pradesh

Agra steps up anti-Covid measures amid Omicron scare

With the city of Taj being an attractive tourist destination for foreigners, the Agra administration has asked all city hotels to keep it apprised of all their overseas guests amid the worldwide scare of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

Stepping up its anti-Covid vigil amid the Omicron scare, the city administration has also upgraded its anti-Covid mechanism to subject travellers to RT-PCR tests at bus and railway stations and monuments, an Agra Health Department official said on Thursday.

“We have also arranged facilities for vaccination at the Taj Mahal and Agra Cantt Railway Station, besides some other places,” said Agra Chief Medical Officer Arun Kumar Srivastava.

"We have asked city hotels to provide details of travellers coming from foreign countries and alerted local intelligence unit to check the travel history of foreigners staying in Agra,” Dr. Srivastava added.

Besides at the Taj Mahal and various city railway stations, foreigners can avail Covid vaccination also at the district’s urban and rural health centres government hospitals, he said. — PTI


Mandaviya meets airport, port health officials over screening at points of entries

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on December 2 held a meeting with airport and port health officers as well as other authorities over screening and surveillance at all points of entries amid concerns over the new coronavirus variant 'Omicron', official sources said.

The Health Ministry has been advising States and Union Territories to keep a strict vigil and undertake surveillance of international passengers coming to the country through various airports.

Testing of samples of international travellers coming from ‘at risk’ countries on the first day and of specified category of passengers on the eighth day needs to be scrupulously done, it had stressed.

International passengers from at-risk countries are being advised to wait at airports till the report of the RT-PCR test is available.

States/UTs have been asked to send all positive samples for genome sequencing to INSACOG labs (mapped with states) promptly and that the States should undertake contact tracing of positive individuals and follow up for 14 days. — PTI


Two cases of Omicron variant detected in Karnataka

Two cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus has been detected through INSACOG in Karnataka, Union Health Ministry has said.

Both the patients are males and their primary and secondary contacts have been traced and are being tested, the Ministry said.

Read more

United Kingdom

Pfizer working on updated jab in response to Omicron variant: CEO

Pfizer is working on an updated jab in response to the Omicron variant that could be ready in 100 days, according to the head of American multinational pharmaceutical giant, who said that people may need to have annual Covid-19 vaccinations for many years to come.

Pfizer's chief executive Dr. Albert Bourla told the BBC that he is of the view that annual vaccinations would be needed to maintain a "very high level of protection" against the deadly disease that has claimed over five million lives across the world.

Dr. Bourla was speaking to the BBC before the emergence of the Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa and also before the announcement that the U.K. government had signed contracts to buy the 54 million additional Pfizer-BioNTech and 60 million Moderna doses for 2022 and 2023.

These deals include access to modified vaccines if needed to combat Omicron and future variants of concern, the Department of Health has said. — PTI


380 people recently returned to Odisha from Omicron-hit nations: Official

As many as 380 people have returned to Odisha from countries hit by the new coronavirus strain, Omicron, earlier this week, and all of them have tested negative, an official said.

People returning from the ‘at-risk’ countries will have to be in home quarantine for seven days, despite testing negative for COVID-19. They will be examined again on the eighth day, Public Health Director Niranjan Mishra said.

As many as 224 people returned on Monday and 156 the day after, the health official said at a press conference, adding that the districts had been informed for surveillance.

The travellers came to the State only after testing negative at the international airports. The World Health Organisation stated that there were 26 countries so far where the new variant has been detected, he added. — PTI


33 students have contracted COVID-19 in Odisha's Dhenkanal

Meanwhile, a college in Dhenkanal municipality was sealed on Thursday after 33 students were found to have contracted COVID-19. Three to four days ago, four students at a hostel of Saikrupa Residential College at Kunjakanta were detected with the disease, following which others there were tested, the official said.

Out of 210 samples, 33 tested positive and the patients were moved to isolation. The area has been declared a containment zone for 10 days, he added.

Meanwhile, the state has logged 252 more coronavirus infections, which took the tally to nearly 10.5 lakh, while two fresh fatalities pushed the toll to 8,415, the health department said.

One each in Khurda and Jajpur districts have succumbed to the disease. — PTI


Air passenger tests positive for Covid at Shamshabad airport in Telangana

A file picture of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Samshabad, near Hyderabad, Telangana.

A file picture of Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Samshabad, near Hyderabad, Telangana.   | Photo Credit: Nagara Gopal


A 35-year-old woman, who arrived by a British Airways flight to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Shamshabad in Hyderabad on December 1 has tested positive for Covid.

Telangana’s Director of Public Health Dr. G. Srinivasa Rao said that samples taken from her were sent for whole genome sequencing.

Whether she has Omicron or Delta varaint will be known only after receiving the genome sequencing results. The results would be received in three days.

Read more

Tamil Nadu

27 students test positive for COVID-19 in Dharapuram school

A total of 27 students studying at a private school in Dharapuram in Tiruppur district have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Health Department.

On November 27, two Class X boys from the school on Karur Main Road were admitted at the Government Hospital in Dharapuram with COVID-19 symptoms. As the two students subsequently tested positive, the Health Department decided to lift swab samples of students and faculty members at the school, officials said.

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ZyCoV-D to be introduced in 7 States initially

Coronavirus updates | December 2, 2021

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.

Read more


U.K. approves GlaxoSmithKline drug to treat COVID-19

British regulators on Thursday approved GlaxoSmithKline drug sotrovimab to treat those at high risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, with the manufacturer saying it "retains activity" against the new Omicron variant.

The monoclonal antibody "was found to be safe and effective at reducing the risk of hospitalisation and death in people with mild to moderate COVID-19 infection who are at an increased risk of developing severe disease," said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). -AFP


Hope to get clearer picture in next couple of days: Kohli on tour of Omicron-hit South Africa

India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said he expects to get a clearer picture on the upcoming tour of South Africa in the next couple of days after it was thrown into uncertainty following the emergence of the new COVID-19 variant -- Omicron.

Kohli was addressing the media on the eve of the second and final Test against New Zealand here from Friday. -PTI


Moderna Covid vaccine highly effective 5 months after second dose: Study

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine offers an effectiveness of 87 per cent in preventing infection, over 95 per cent against severe disease, and 98 per cent against death, according to a study.

The research, published in The Lancet Regional Health - Americas journal, evaluated the five-month effectiveness of the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA vaccine as part of an observational study. Funded by Moderna, the study included 352,878 recipients of two doses of the vaccine matched to 352,878 unvaccinated individuals by age, sex, race, and ethnicity. -PTI


Serum Institute seeks DCGI's approval for Covishield as booster dose

Serum Institute of India has sought from India's drug regulator approval for Covishield as a booster dose citing adequate stock of the vaccine in the country and a demand for a booster shot due to the emergence of new coronavirus variants, official sources said.

In an application to the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI), Prakash Kumar Singh, the Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at Serum Institute of India (SII) cited that the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has already approved the booster dose of AstraZeneca ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine, they said. -PTI

New Delhi

4 more international travellers test COVID-19 positive at Delhi airport: Officials

Four more travellers from “at-risk” countries tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here on Thursday, officials said.

Three out of the 243 people on the Air France flight that landed at the airport around 12 midnight tested positive for Covid, an official said.

One more person travelling with 195 others on a flight from London was found to be infected with coronavirus, the official said. -PTI


Active COVID-19 cases in country increase to 99,763

A school girl walks past a graffiti on a street, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, in Mumbai, India, December 1, 2021

A school girl walks past a graffiti on a street, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, in Mumbai, India, December 1, 2021   | Photo Credit: Reuters


With 9,765 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,46,06,541, while the active cases increased to 99,763, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

The death toll climbed to 4,69,724 with 477 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The daily rise  in new coronavirus infections has been less than 50,000 for 158 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


Get vaccinated against COVID-19 and win electronic appliances: Maharashtra civic body tells citizens

The Hingoli Municipal Council in Maharashtra has decided to lure people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 by offering them prizes like LED TVs, refrigerators and washing machines, officials said on Thursday.

Similar incentives were also announced by the Chandrapur civic body in the state earlier this month to encourage people to take the vaccine. -PTI


Indonesia tightens travel curbs as it braces for Omicron arrival

Authorities in Indonesia have tightened border curbs, extended quarantine and limited movement on strategic toll roads, in a preemptive move to limit the spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant should it reach Southeast Asia's largest country.

Scientists suggest Omicron, detected so far in two dozen countries, may be more transmissible than earlier variants, threatening a global economic recovery. More than 50 countries have imposed new travel measures in recent days, according to the World Health Organization. -Reuters


Karnataka revises protocols for international arrivals

Following directions from the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Karnataka on Wednesday issued revised protocols from all international arrivals.

According to the revised guidelines, all travellers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal ( uvidha/apho-registration) before the scheduled travel, including last 14 days travel details. The traveller should upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report that is not older than 72 hours.

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Japan retracts new flight bookings ban after criticisms

Japan says it has retracted a ban on new incoming international flight bookings to defend against the new variant of the coronavirus only a day after the policy was announced.

The transport ministry on Wednesday issued a request to international airlines to stop taking new reservations for flights coming into Japan until the end of December as an emergency precaution to defend against the new omicron variant. -AP


Moderna executive says company could have Omicron booster ready in March

Moderna Inc could have a COVID-19 booster shot targeting the Omicron variant tested and ready to file for U.S. authorization as soon as March, the company's president said on Wednesday.

Moderna President Stephen Hoge said he believes booster shots carrying genes specifically targeting mutations in the newly-discovered Omicron variant would be the quickest way to address any anticipated reductions in vaccine efficacy it may cause. -Reuters

Tamil Nadu

‘Vaccination mandatory to enter public, private places in Krishnagiri’

The district administration has banned entry of unvaccinated persons into public and private places here in the district.

With the emergence of Omicron, a new COVID-19 variant, the district administration has upped the ante against the unvaccinated.

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Italy approves COVID-19 vaccination for 5-11 year olds

Italy's medicines agency AIFA on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for the use of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine for children between the ages of five and 11.

AIFA's decision, which was widely expected, came after the European Union's drug regulator (EMA) took the same step on November 25. -Reuters


Saudi, UAE detect first cases of new coronavirus variant

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates said they detected their first cases of the new coronavirus variant, recording the first known instances of omicron infections in the Persian Gulf region.

Saudi Arabia's state-run Saudi Press Agency said its case was a citizen coming from what it described as a “North African country.” The report said the infected individual and his close contacts had been quarantined.

The UAE also reported its first case of infection with the omicron variant late Wednesday. State-run WAM news agency described the patient as an African woman who traveled from an African country through an Arab country, without specifying which nations. -PTI


Mexico approves emergency use of Lilly's COVID-19 treatment

Mexico's health regulator Cofepris said on Wednesday it had approved U.S. pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Co's antibody treatment against COVID-19 for emergency use with infected patients at risk from comorbidities.

Cofepris said in a statement it had granted the emergency use of Lilly's injectable combination of bamlanivimab and etesevimab to treat mild to moderate cases of coronavirus in people above the age of 12 who weigh at least 40 kilograms. -Reuters


India's Serum Institute delivers first Novavax shot through COVAX

Serum Institute of India has sent doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Indonesia, in its first export of the Novavax shot through the COVAX network, the Indian government said on Wednesday.

The world's biggest vaccine maker exported 137,500 doses of Covovax, as it calls the shot, to the Southeast Asian country last week. -Reuters


WHO members agree to forge a pandemic accord

World Health Organization member states agreed on Wednesday to start building a new international accord on how to handle future pandemics and ensure there can be no repeat of COVID-19.

At a special meeting in Geneva, the 194 WHO member states unanimously adopted a resolution launching the negotiating and drafting process for a new international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

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First case of Omicron variant identified in U.S.

A person in California became the first in the U.S. to have an identified case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, a US official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. It comes as scientists continue to study the risks posed by the new strain of the virus.

The Biden administration moved late last month to restrict travel from Southern Africa where the variant was first identified and had been widespread. Clusters of cases have also been identified in about two dozen other nations. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

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Brazil confirms 3rd omicron case, considers new measures

Health officials on Wednesday confirmed Brazil's third known case of the omicron coronavirus variant as the government examined possible new measures to contain the virus, such as suspending some flights and requiring arriving passengers to show proof of vaccination.

A passenger from Ethiopia tested positive for Covid-19 upon landing in Sao Paulo on Nov. 27, the state's health secretariat said in a statement. The 29 year-old man is vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer shot and is in good health, officials said. -PTI


Jaipur airport gears up to implement Covid guidelines for international arrivals

The Jaipur International Airport here on Wednesday put in place several measures, including additional coronavirus testing facilities, to implement the government's COVID-19 guidelines for international arrivals, officials said.

"Elaborate arrangements, including additional testing and resting facilities, for safety and convenience of passengers have been made at the airport. Larger waiting and seating areas with necessary amenities, additional counters and booths for registration and sampling, more ground staff for faster passenger processing are among the measures put in place to handle international arrival," an airport official said. -PTI


Omicron alert: preventive measures tightened in Wayanad

The Wayanad district administration has intensified preventive measures and tightened surveillance in the wake of reports of Omicron spread in several countries.

District Collector A. Geetha on Wednesday ordered all those who had returned from abroad to go into self-quarantine for 14 days.

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Nigeria says it found first case of omicron in November

Nigeria has detected its first case of the omicron coronavirus variant in travellers that arrived from South Africa in the past week, the country's national public health institute said Wednesday, correcting its earlier statement that it found the variant in samples taken in October.

The Nigeria Center for Disease Control said in a second statement that it was the delta variant — not omicron as it had earlier stated — that was detected in the samples from October. It said the omicron variant was first detected in three travellers who arrived in the country in the past week. -PTI

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