Coronavirus updates | December 8, 2021

A medic administers a dose of COVID-19 vaccine to a beneficiary during a door to door vaccination drive, in Mirzapur district, Tuesday, December 7, 2021.  

India logged 6,822 new coronavirus infections, the lowest in 558 days, taking the country's tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,46,48,383, while the active cases declined to 95,014, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Tuesday.

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:

Meghalaya

New guidelines for people visiting Meghalaya

Meghalaya government has issued new guidelines making it mandatory for people entering the State to register with the government website and download the Arogya Setu app and the Behavioural Change Management app, an official said.

The new guidelines were issued after the Omicron variant of COVID-19 was detected in some States, the official said on Tuesday.

- PTI

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‘Highly unlikely’ existing vaccines will fail against Omicron: WHO

Omicron does not appear to cause more severe disease than previous COVID-19 variants, and is “highly unlikely” to fully dodge vaccine protections, a top WHO official said.

The World Health Organization’s second-in-command, said that while a lot remained to be learned about the new, heavily mutated variant of COVID-19, preliminary data indicated it did not make people sicker than Delta and other strains.

“The preliminary data doesn’t indicate that this is more severe. In fact, if anything, the direction is towards less severity,” WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan said in an interview, insisting though that more research was needed. - AFP

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Andhra Pradesh

High alert in Anantapur, Kurnool to check spread of Omicron variant

A high alert has been sounded in Kurnool and Anantapur districts against the possible spread of Omicron variant of the COVID-19 from Karnataka and Maharashtra, where a number of cases have been reported.

Roads and Buildings Minister M. Sankaranarayana held a review meeting in Anantapur with District Collector Nagalakshmi Selvarajan, Joint Collector A. Siri, and DMHO Y. Kameswara Prasad on Tuesday. The average positive cases have been in either single-digit or not exceeding 15 per day in Anantapur district, and literally ‘0’ cases in Kurnool district on most of the days in the month.

“These districts have a long border with Karnataka and entry of the primary and secondary contacts of the Omicron positive persons is possible, hence people should be on high alert adhering to all COVID-19 protocols like wearing mask and avoiding large gatherings,” the Minister said. People in the villages must be vigilant and inform the officials about any new person arriving from these States, he added.

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Maharashtra

Aaditya Thackeray  demands reducing vaccination age to 15

Maharashtra Minister and Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray on Tuesday wrote to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya asking the Central Government to consider reducing age of COVID vaccination to 15.

“In my conversation with various doctors, it seems that it may be okay to reduce the minimum age of vaccination to 15. This will enable us to cover secondary school and junior colleges with vaccine protection,” said the letter.

He also advocated the need to give a third booster shot to healthcare professionals and front line workers. Mr. Thackeray also informed the minister that 100% of Mumbai population has been covered by first dose of COVID vaccination while 73% have had second dose.

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Study suggests Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine may only partially protect against Omicron

The Omicron variant of the coronavirus can partially evade the protection from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine, the research head of a laboratory at Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa said on Tuesday.

Alex Sigal, a professor at the Africa Health Research Institute, said on Twitter there was "a very large drop" in neutralization of the Omicron variant relative to an earlier strain of COVID. The lab tested blood from 12 people who had been vaccinated with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, according to a manuscript posted on the website for his lab. The preliminary data in the manuscript has not yet been peer reviewed.

Blood from five out of six people who had been vaccinated as well as previously infected with COVID-19 still neutralized the Omicron variant, the manuscript said. -Reuters

Canada

Delta variant cases rise in Canada's Ontario, Omicron to hit 'hard and fast'

Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise across Canada's most populous province of Ontario due to the Delta variant, while Omicron "will hit us hard and fast" next year, an expert panel said on Tuesday.

Ontario reported 928 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, up from 887 cases reported on Monday.

The province has so far found 21 cases of the Omicron variant, which was first detected last month in southern Africa and has since spread around the globe. Canada has had at least 36 cases of the new variant so far. - Reuters

Norway

Norway again tightens COVID-19 restrictions in bid to halt spread

The Norwegian government introduced stricter rules on Tuesday to limit the spread of COVID-19, including a cap on the number of visitors in private homes and shortening the hours bars and restaurants can serve alcohol.

The Nordic country has seen a surge of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, followed by a rise in the number of hospitalisations.

"We really wished we were done with the pandemic. But the situation is now so serious that we must put in place new measures to keep control," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere told a news conference.

"Therefore it will be a different Christmas holiday this year as well," he said. - Reuters

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