As more nations impose restrictions on travel to the United Kingdom (the latest being Canada), the Union Health Ministry has called an urgent meeting of its Joint Monitoring Group on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutated variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has led to a surge in the infection rate there.
Canada is halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours, the health ministry said on Sunday.
Here are the latest updates:
Public meetings being curbed in South Korean capital
Gatherings of more than five people will be banned in South Korea's capital region as an elevated step to suppress what authorities call an "explosive" surge in coronavirus infections.
The Seoul region is home to half of South Korea's 51 million people and has been at the center of a recent viral resurgence. The country averaged about 960 new virus cases each day in the past week, more than 70 per cent of them in the Seoul metropolitan area.
Acting Seoul mayor Seo Jung-hyup said Monday the ban will apply to any type of meetings including year-end parties, office dinners, birthday parties and picnics. Only weddings and funerals can follow the current rule of not more than 50 people.
He says the new restrictions will take effect from Wednesday and last until January 3 in Seoul, Gyeonggi province that surrounds Seoul and Incheon city, just west of Seoul.
Centre halts flights to and from U.K.
Considering the prevailing situation in the U.K. the Govt. of India has decided that all flights originating from the U.K. to India be suspended till December 31, 2020 (23.59 hours), the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Monday.
The Ministry said that the suspension of flights to U.K. will come into effect on December 22 midnight.
No need to panic on new coronavirus strain in U.K.: Harsh Vardhan
The government is alert and there is no need to panic, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on December 21 amid concerns over the new coronavirus strain in the U.K. .
He said the government had done everything that was important to handle the COVID-19 situation in the last one year.
Arvind Kejriwal urges govt. to ban all flights from U.K.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday urged the government to ban all flights from U.K. immediately, in light of the new COVID-19 strain emerging there.
COVID-19 | India reports 24,337 new cases; tally increases to 1,00,55,560
India’s COVID-19 caseload rose to 1,00,55,560 with 24,337 new infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease crossed 96 lakh, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.
The death toll increased to 1,45,810 with 333 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
Saudi Arabia suspends international flights
Saudi Arabia has temporarily suspended all international passenger flights for citizens and residents over fears about the fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus.
The kingdom’s Interior Ministry says the one-week flight ban may be extended “until medical information about the nature of this virus becomes clear.”
Canada halts passenger flights from U.K. for 72 hours
Canada is halting passenger flights from the United Kingdom for 72 hours, the health ministry said on Sunday, joining a growing list of countries barring British travelers to prevent the spread of a new coronavirus strain from the country.
The restrictions do not apply to cargo planes or planes landing for safety reasons, according to an earlier Transport Canada notice to airmen, which said the move is “necessary for aviation safety and the protection of the public.” The measures go into effect at midnight on Sunday (0500 GMT Monday).
Tennessee governor enacts new virus restrictions
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee has announced new social gathering restrictions while still refusing to implement a mask mandate despite pleas from front-line healthcare workers in a state experiencing the highest new cases per capita in the country.
Instead of a mask mandate, the Republican on December 20 signed an executive order limiting public gatherings to 10 people. However, places of worship, weddings and funerals are exempt from the order.
He called the state “ground zero” in the COVID-19 battle and urged Tennesseans not to gather with people outside their immediate households during the upcoming holidays. His message comes just a day after Mr. Lee confirmed that his wife Maria had tested positive for COVID-19.
Resorts, homestays see business pick up as 2020 draws to a close
The Karnataka government may have banned parties and revelry in public spaces for the New Year in the light of the pandemic, but that does not seem to have dampened the spirits. For the first time since the pandemic forced us into a lockdown in March earlier this year, many have booked a holiday for the Christmas–New Year season.
Sanjar Imam, president of the Karnataka Tourism Forum, said though the business was still nearly 80% lower when compared with the same time last year, the industry started seeing the first signs of “green shoots” this year since October and the upcoming holiday season looked “promising”.
Case graph inches upwards in many districts in Kerala
Kerala reported 5,711 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, when 53,858 samples were tested in the past 24 hours, taking the State’s cumulative case burden to 7,05,869 cases. Test positivity rate, which has been slowly and steadily rising since the past one week, reached 10.6% on Sunday.
The rising trend is being witnessed since December 12 in many districts, especially Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, Wayanad, Kannur, Palakkad, Thrissur, Ernakulam. The change is beginning to be discernible in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam too.
Health Ministry team to meet on mutant variant of coronavirus
The Health Ministry has called a meeting of its joint monitoring group (JMG) on COVID-19 on Monday to discuss the emergence of a mutant variant of the coronavirus in the UK, which has reportedly led to a surge in infection rates there.
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus has been undergoing constant mutation but this new variant seems to be more virulent. It may cause additional harm as it attaches itself to the integrin of the cell leading to increased cellular inflammation and health complications,” said Prof. N.K. Ganguly, former director general, ICMR.
(With inputs from Agencies)