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Coronavirus live | Pakistan reports first suspected case of Omicron variant

Testing is increased in view of the possible Omicron spread in Gujarat. International passengers arrive at SVP International Airport in Ahmedabad on December 07, 2021 | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI
The Hindu Net Desk 09 December 2021 08:51 IST
Updated: 10 December 2021 07:30 IST

The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in India crossed 130 crore on Wednesday, the Union Health Ministry said. Over 72 lakh vaccine doses were administered on Wednesday till 7 pm, it said

The World Health Organization says early evidence suggests the omicron variant may be spreading faster than the highly transmissible delta variant but brings with it less severe coronavirus disease -– though it's too early to make firm conclusions.

Read | Omicron blunts immune response more, say reports

Editorial | A measured response: On the Omicron threat

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Opinion | The need for a robust civil registration system

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:

Pakistan

Pakistan reports first suspected case of Omicron variant

Pakistan has reported its first suspected case of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron in a woman in Karachi, Sindh province Health Minister Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho said on Thursday.

She said that a genomic study was being carried out for confirmation.

"Although the genomic study of the coronavirus patient's sample has not been completed but the way the virus is behaving, it seems like it is Omicron,” she told the media.

Karnataka

Karnataka govt decides to wait for next one week for new COVID-19 rules

The Karnataka government has decided to adopt a “wait and watch” policy to announce a new set of guidelines following Technical Advisory Committee Chairman M K Sudarshan informed the authorities that there is no need to press panic button at present as the figures for COVID-19 positive cases are low in the State.

A cabinet meeting presided by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai discussed in detail on the unfolding pandemic situation in the state, triggered by cases of Omicron, a new variant of COVID-19.

He said the new norms for pandemic management would be issued after watching the situation next one week. -Bengaluru Bureau

Tamil Nadu

Nine Anna University students test positive for COVID-19, saturation testing being done

After one person tested positive for COVID-19 at Anna University’s ACTECH campus hostel on Wednesday, nine of the 300 students who were subjected to RT-PCR testing, were found positive for the infection. All 763 students on the campus are being tested now, Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said.

“The Greater Chennai Corporation has taken up saturation testing for all students of the campus after one student tested positive on Wednesday. A total of 300 students were tested of whom, nine were found to be infected and admitted to the Government Corona Hospital, Guindy. All of them are asymptomatic and are doing well,” he told reporters shortly after inspecting the university campus on Thursday.

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International

Time of day affects immune response to Covid vaccination: Study

Antibody levels are higher when people receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the afternoon as compared to the morning, according to an observational study.

The research, published in the Journal of Biological Rhythms, demonstrates that our internal 24-hour circadian clock regulates many aspects of physiology, including the response to infectious disease and vaccination. -PTI

National

India records 9,419 fresh Covid infections, active cases increase to 94,742

With 9,419 more people testing positive for Covid in a day, India's infection tally rose to 3,46,66,241, while the active cases increased to 94,742, according to the Union Health Ministry's data updated on Thursday.

The death toll climbed to 4,74,111 after 159 fresh fatalities were reported, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been recorded below 10,000 for 13 straight days and less than 50,000 for 165 consecutive days now.

The active cases have increased to 94,742 comprising 0.27% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.36%, the highest since March 2020, the Health Ministry said. -PTI

USA

U.S. FDA authorizes AstraZeneca's COVID-19 antibody drug

The U.S. drugs regulator said on Wednesday it had authorized AstraZeneca's antibody cocktail to prevent COVID-19 infections in individuals who have weak immune systems or a history of severe side effects from coronavirus vaccines.

While vaccines rely on an intact immune system to develop targeted antibodies and infection-fighting cells, AstraZeneca's therapy Evusheld contains lab-made antibodies designed to linger in the body for months to contain the virus in case of an infection.

"Vaccines have proven to be the best defense available against COVID-19," said Patrizia Cavazzoni, director of the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. -Reuters

South Africa

South African regulator approves Pfizer booster vaccine after surge in Covid cases

South Africa has approved the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus booster vaccine for people aged over 18 years, amid mounting concern following a record of almost 20,000 infections overnight, largely ascribed to the new and highly-mutating Omicron variant.

The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) on December 8 approved the use of Pfizer’s Comirnaty® COVID-19 vaccine after BioNTech and Pfizer announced that two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to protect against the Omicron variant.

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International

Pfizer says COVID-19 booster offers protection against Omicron

Pfizer said Wednesday that a booster of its COVID-19 vaccine may offer important protection against the new omicron variant even though the initial two doses appear significantly less effective.

Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said that while two doses may not be strong enough to prevent infection, lab tests showed a booster increased by 25-fold people's levels of antibodies capable of fighting off omicron. For people who haven't yet had a booster, the companies said two doses still should prevent severe disease or death. -AP

UK

U.K. PM announces home-working, vaccine passports in England

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced the tightening of virus restrictions in England as Omicron variant cases surge, including guidance to work from home and mandatory vaccine passports.

Johnson said at a briefing that as the rate of Omicron cases was doubling every two to three days, it was "the proportionate and the responsible thing to move to Plan B in England".

As part of a raft of measure, the government is reintroducing advice to work at home in England from Monday, the prime minister said.

He added that the government in a week's time will make it compulsory to show Covid vaccine passports in England for the first time, while the devolved administrations of Scotland and Wales have already brought in similar measures.-AFP

Karnataka

Confusion over discharge protocols of Omicron patients

Although three contacts of the 46-year-old Omicron-infected government anaesthetist tested negative for COVID-19, twice in a span of 48 hours, their discharge from the State-run Bowring and Lady Curzon Medical College and Research Institute, the designated Omicron treatment facility, has become a bone of contention between the treating doctors and Health officials.

While the three doctors, an anaesthetist, a cardiothoracic surgeon and a vascular surgeon, had been initially discharged on Tuesday and had left the premises of the hospital, they were asked to come back by the hospital authorities late in the night as their genome sequencing reports have still not arrived. And, accordingly the doctors returned to the hospital.

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China

China approves Brii COVID-19 treatment in adults, teenagers

China's medical products regulator said on Wednesday it had approved the use of Brii Biosciences' neutralising antibody cocktail for COVID-19, the first treatment of its type against the virus given the go-ahead in the country.

The combination of BRII-196/BRII-198 showed a 78% reduction of hospitalization and death in non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of developing severe disease in a Phase III clinical trial, Brii said in October.

The medicine from a Brii subsidiary was approved to treat mild COVID-19 and the disease of "normal type" with high risk of progressing to hospitalization or death in adults and minors aged 12-17, the National Medical Products Administration said. -Reuters

Denmark

Denmark reintroduces some COVID-19 restrictions

Denmark will again impose restrictions aimed at curbing the rapid spread of COVID-19 including the new Omicron variant, the country's prime minister said on Wednesday.

The new restrictions include closing primary schools from December 15 and restaurants and bars from midnight on Friday. They also encourage Danes to work from home and cancel social gatherings such as Christmas parties.

"It is still our assessment that it is possible to keep large parts of Danish society open, thanks to the large support for the vaccines," Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a news conference. -Reuters

Andhra Pradesh

Omicron threat keeps officials on toes in Chittoor

At a time whe the medical and health officials of Chittoor district were heaving a sigh of relief with a “negligible number of daily count” of COVID cases, the threat of Omicron variant has once again kept them on their toes. Unlike other districts, the floating population of pilgrims visiting Tirumala and Srikalahasti has made the task of authorities tough.

Senior officials on COVID task force duties observed that except for screening the cases arriving at Tirupati airport, tracing the arrival of home-bound passengers through trains and road transport after alighting in Mumbai or New Delhi was proving a Herulean task.

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Tamil Nadu

Rapid PCR test fee slashed at airport

The Chennai airport has slashed the prices of Rapid PCR and RT-PCR tests “by foregoing its revenue share”. The new rates were effective from Tuesday. A senior official of the airport said Hindlabs, which was charging ₹3,400 for a Rapid PCR test will now collect ₹2,900. Similarly, the rate for RT-PCR test has been slashed by ₹100 to ₹600 per test.

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USA

U.S. OKs new COVID-19 antibody drug for high-risk patients

Federal health officials on Wednesday authorised a new COVID-19 antibody drug for people with serious health problems or allergies who can't get adequate protection from vaccination.

Antibody drugs have been a standard treatment for treating COVID-19 infections for over a year. But the AstraZeneca antibody drug cleared Wednesday by the Food and Drug Administration is different. It's the first authorised for long-term prevention against COVID-19 infection, rather than a short-term treatment. -PTI

Maharashtra

Maharashtra's first Omicron case patient discharged from hospital after testing negative

Maharashtra's first patient of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, who resides in Thane district, was on Wednesday discharged from a hospital after testing negative for the infection, a civic official said.

The patient, a 33-year-old marine engineer from Kalyan Dombivli municipal area, had arrived at the Delhi airport from South Africa via Dubai in the last week of November.

He had boarded the flight from South Africa on November 24. On his arrival at the New Delhi airport his RT-PCR test was conducted. By the time he landed in Mumbai, he was informed by the Delhi airport authorities that he has tested positive for COVID-19. -PTI

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