Coronavirus updates | January 18, 2022

Resident of an apartment being administered with COVID-19 vaccine at door step by the Chennai Corporation staff, in Chennai on January 17, 2022.

Resident of an apartment being administered with COVID-19 vaccine at door step by the Chennai Corporation staff, in Chennai on January 17, 2022.

While 89.7% of the eligible population has been vaccinated with at least one dose, 64.9% have received both doses. In the 15-17 age cohort, 48.4% of the population have received their first dose. Altogether, 91,41,91,708 first doses, 66,07,95,449 second doses and 49,35,439 booster doses have been administered across the country.

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 updates :


Records show Bihar doctor took 5 Covid vaccine shots, probe ordered

The Bihar government has ordered an investigation after records showed that a Patna-based civil surgeon was administered five shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The civil surgeon, Dr. Vibha Kumari Singh, however, said she had taken the jab thrice as per rules.

Singh also claimed that someone else managed to get vaccine shots using her PAN card details, and called for a probe.

According to the CoWIN portal, she received the first dose on January 28, 2021 and was fully vaccinated by March last year. - PTI


Tamil Nadu

Volunteers resume free food supply for COVID-19 patients

Neeta Jessani (21) an interior designer, and her mother Poonam Jessani sent out hundreds of fresh home cooked meals for free for COVID-19 patients last year. Now, with sharp spike in cases in the city, they are flooded with calls again which has prompted her to resume her service.

“We didn’t realise several people were affected till we began to get numerous calls every day. We provide breakfast and lunch with varieties like idli, pongal, upma, paratha, dal, subzi, bisibelebath and pulao . We are cooking for ourselves anyway, so why not do it for another few families? At present, we are take up to 10 persons per meal. If there is a kid in the list, we drop in a chocolate as well to cheer him or her up. While the food is free, those ordering from us will have to take responsibility for delivery,” she says.

Lending a helping hand:  To ensure health diet for patients, many volunteers cook food and supply them free of cost.

Lending a helping hand: To ensure health diet for patients, many volunteers cook food and supply them free of cost.

Like Ms. Jessani, quite a few in the city have resumed sending home-made meals for free for COVID-19 patients. These volunteers ensure the patients get fresh nutritious home-cooked meals that is low on oil, spices and salt.


Tamil Nadu

In India, one person with COVID-19 is currently infecting at least 2 others, say IIT-Madras researchers

A team of researchers from the Centre of Excellence for Computational Mathematics and Data Science at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M) has calculated that as on January 13, an infected person spreads the virus on an average to two others (2.2). As on January 10 it was three others (3.5) and on January 6, it was four persons.

The team includes S. Sundar, professor and co-principal investigator; Neelesh S. Upadhye, associate professor and principal investigator; and Jayant Jha, assistant professor at the Department of Mathematics. “The R nought (R0) value reveals that one infected person can infect three persons on an average. We assume that the neighbours are not infected,” explained Professor Sundar.

The model helps to understand the stringency with which safety protocols are observed. “The message is that R0 is an indicator of the rate of spread of the disease. We can also tell, with given data, how the stringency measures have affected the spread of the disease,” he said.



Unlikely that people will move around with masks on forever: Anthony Fauci on 'new normal'

Warning that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and Omicron would not be the last variant, global health experts on Monday said a lot would depend on transmissibility and severity of the next mutants of the deadly virus.

Speaking at a session on COVID-19 on the first day of the World Economic Forum's online Davos Agenda summit, American immunologist Dr Anthony S. Fauci also said while it was difficult to predict as yet what could be the new normal, he does not think that people will roam around with their masks on forever.

"Omicron is highly transmissible, but apparently not very pathogenic. While I hope that remains the case, but that would depend on what new variants emerge going forward," he said. - PTI

Dr Fauci: ‘I also hope the new normal would include a strong memory about what a pandemic can do to us’

Dr Fauci: ‘I also hope the new normal would include a strong memory about what a pandemic can do to us’




Molnupiravir kept out of revised clinical guidelines for management of adult COVID-19 patients

The Central government hasn’t included antiviral drug Molnupiravir in its revised clinical guidance for management of adult COVID-19 patients, and specified that Remdesivir and Tocilizumab should be prescribed under certain conditions only.

It stated that high-risk for severe disease or mortality is among those over 60 years. Also people with cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and other immunocompromised states (such as HIV), active tuberculosis, chronic lung/kidney/liver disease, cerebrovascular disease and obesity fall in this category.

The guidelines were revised by the All India Institute of Medical Science and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-COVID-19 National Task Force/ Joint Monitoring Group, under the Health Ministry



Vaccination for 12-14 age group likely from March: NTAGI chief

India may begin inoculating children in the 12-14 age group against COVID-19 in March as the 15-17 population is likely to get fully vaccinated by then, N.K. Arora, Chairman of the COVID-19 working group of the National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), said on Monday.

Of the estimated 7.4 crore population in the 15-17 age bracket, over 3.45 crore have received the first dose of Covaxin so far and their second dose is due in 28 days, he said.

“Adolescents in this age group have been actively participating in the inoculation process, and going by this pace of vaccination, the rest of the beneficiaries in the 15-17 age group are likely to be covered with the first dose by January-end and subsequently their second dose is expected to be done by February-end,” he said. - PTI



Daily case spike continues despite holding fewer tests

India recorded 2,32,760 COVID-19 cases on Monday, a 40% increase compared to a week ago. The number of infections has reached 3.74 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 17-lakh mark.

On Sunday, 13.13 lakh tests were conducted, a 21% decline from the day before. Cases increased on Monday, despite the reduction in tests. As a result, the test positivity rate (the number of cases detected per 100 tests) continued its ascent and reached 17.7%, the highest in the ongoing wave.

Maharashtra recorded 31,111 cases on Monday, the most for any State, followed by Karnataka (27,156) and Tamil Nadu (23,433).

The figures are based on the State bulletins released until 10 p.m. on Monday. However, Ladakh, Lakshadweep, Jharkhand and Tripura had not yet released data for the day.




Supreme Court flags impact of third wave on children

The Supreme Court on Monday expressed a deep sense of anxiety on whether the third wave of the pandemic will put more children, orphaned or abandoned, on the streets.

A Bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao and B.V. Nagarathna reminded the country’s bureaucracy that fighting COVID also means fighting to keep children off the streets.

“We are not running away from the reality of the pandemic. Bureaucrats are busy... But part of COVID battle is to see that children are off the streets,” Justice Rao addressed the Centre and the States.



COVID cases showing downward trend in Delhi

The daily new COVID-19 cases have reduced for the fourth consecutive day and Delhi has been showing a decreasing trend, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said on Monday.

“Weekend curfews have played a significant role in the dip. This trend indicates that the number of cases in Delhi is decreasing, but the government is still alert and will take some time to understand the trend,” the Minister said.

The number of new COVID-19 admissions at Lok Nayak Hospital, the largest Delhi government-run hospital, has also come down in the last two days, authorities said.

“Earlier, the number of new COVID admissions were increasing every day and it had reached 40-50 people a day. But now it is coming down. In the last two days, there have been only 35-40 new admissions a day,” said Suresh Kumar, Medical Director of Lok Nayak Hospital.



Uncertainty delays jobs recovery: ILO

The global job market will take longer to recover than previously thought, with unemployment levels set to remain above pre-COVID-19 levels until at least 2023 due to uncertainty about the pandemic’s course and duration, the International Labour Organization said on Monday.

The agency estimated about 52 million fewer jobs in 2022 versus pre-COVID levels, which is about double its previous estimate from June 2021. Disruptions are set to continue into 2023 when there would still be about 27 million fewer jobs, it said in its World Employment and Social Outlook report. - Reuters

Tamil Nadu

With suspension of in-person classes, teachers think of ways to keep senior students engaged in Tamil Nadu

The State government’s announcement to suspend classes on campus for senior school students till January 31 in view of the COVID-19 spread, has prompted teachers to examine ways to ensure the feasibility of virtual assessments and that students keep learning over the next fortnight.

From January 19, revision exams were scheduled to start for Classes X and XII from State Board schools. It has now been postponed. After schools reopened in September 2021, these were the first major rounds of examination for students, since half yearly and quarterly exams were cancelled by the School Education Department.

“This closure of schools will definitely affect government school students. Only now they were regularly coming to school and preparing for the upcoming revision exams. We had faced difficulties even during the first and second lockdown to conduct online classes, and will struggle to keep the momentum going,” said K.P.O. Suresh, a science teacher at a government school.



Third wave undoes last year’s resumption gains

The fast-spreading third wave of COVID-19 has undone the gains achieved due to resumption of business since the end of the lethal second wave last year, Japanese brokerage Nomura said on Monday.

The Nomura India Business Resumption Index, which compares activity against the pre-pandemic levels of March 2020, fell to 102.9 for the week ended January 16, from 107.9 in the preceding 7-day period.

The index has slumped by 17.4 percentage points since the third wave struck at the cusp of the new year.

The third wave — which has seen daily infections climb to more than 2.5 lakh from 1.7 lakh in the week earlier — has “undone business resumption gains since the second wave”, it said. - PTI



90.84% of adult population received first dose, Centre tells Supreme Court

Calling the vaccination programme the “largest” in the world, the Centre has informed the Supreme Court that 71,36,71,234 doses have been administered to “eligible adult females”.

It said 90.84% of the adult population have received their first dose and 65% their second as on January 11.

The government was replying to a petition by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights about the safety measures in place for pregnant women and lactating mothers at the time of vaccination.

“Verbal declaration regarding the status of pregnancy/lactation is voluntary and it can only be verified at the time of vaccination,” the Health Ministry said in the affidavit.


Tamil Nadu

100% State-run school students have received COVID jabs: Tamil Nadu government

The government has completed 100%, the first dose of vaccination against COVID for state-run school students of 15-18 years of age, Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma. Subramanian said here on Monday.

As far as government schools in Tamil Nadu are concerned, the vaccination for students in the 15 to 18 age group was inaugurated by Chief Minister M.K. Stalin here on January 3, the Minister said.

Since that drive was launched in Tamil Nadu on the very same day it was rolled out by the Centre, the government has now completed inoculation for teenage students 100% as regards state-run schools, the Minister told reporters. - PTI


Israeli study shows 4th shot of COVID-19 vaccine not able to block Omicron

A fourth shot of COVID-19 vaccine boosts antibodies to even higher levels than the third jab but it likely is not enough to prevent Omicron infections, according to a preliminary study in Israel.

The vaccines led to a increase in the number of antibodies "even a little bit higher than what we had after the third dose", said Regev-Yochay, adding that the results were preliminary and not yet published.

Israel was the fastest country to roll out initial vaccinations a year ago and last month started offering a fourth shot, or a second booster, to the most vulnerable, high-risk groups. - Reuters


Israel cuts COVID-19 isolation to five days

Israel's Health Ministry said on Monday it would shorten the mandatory isolation period for those who test positive for COVID-19 to five days from seven days, following an initial cut last week, provided they are asymptomatic.

Until last week, the isolation period was 10 days.

The latest decision, which takes effect on Wednesday, brings Israel in line with recommendations in the United States. - Reuters


French COVID hospitalisations see biggest jump since November 2020

The number of people with COVID-19 in French hospitals rose by 888 to 25,775, the health ministry said on Monday, the biggest one-day increase since early November 2020, before the start of the country's vaccination campaign.

The last time the number of COVID patients was over 25,000 was on December 17, 2020.

Health ministry data on Monday also showed that the number of people with COVID-19 in intensive care units rose by 61 to 3,913, after being flat to stable for four days. - Reuters


Canada approves Pfizer's oral COVID-19 antiviral treatment, seeks supplies

Canada on Monday approved Pfizer Inc's oral antiviral treatment for mild to moderate cases of COVID-19 in people aged 18 and older but said supply shortages would keep doses from being made available immediately.

Infections and hospitalizations due the Omicron variant have been rising in Canada, forcing provinces to put in restrictions and the federal government to support impacted businesses.

"[This] is particularly important, as access to easy to use treatments could help to reduce the severity of COVID-19 in adults who become newly infected at high risk of progressing to serious illness," said chief public health officer Theresa Tam. - Reuters

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