Coronavirus updates | January 19, 2022

Health worker prepares a vaccination dose during the drive in West Delhi on January 18, 2022

Health worker prepares a vaccination dose during the drive in West Delhi on January 18, 2022

The worst of the coronavirus pandemic — deaths, hospitalisations and lockdowns — could be over this year if huge inequities in vaccinations and medicines are addressed quickly, the head of emergencies at the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on January 18.

Read | Fresh clinical management protocol includes active TB as comorbidity

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 :

Geneva

WHO counts 18 million virus cases last week as omicron slows

The number of new coronavirus cases globally rose by 20 % last week to more than 18 million, marking a slowdown in the surge caused by the omicron variant's spread, according to the World Health Organisation.

In its weekly report on the pandemic, the UN health agency said the number of new COVID-19 infections increased in every world region except for Africa, where cases fell by nearly a third. The number of deaths globally remained similar to the previous week, at about 45,000.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases jumped by about 50 per cent the week before last, and earlier this month, WHO reported the biggest single-week increase in cases of the pandemic.

WHO said in its report issued late Tuesday that Southeast Asia had the biggest rise in coronavirus cases last week, with the number of newly infected people spiking by 145 %. The Middle East saw a 68 % weekly rise. - AP

Odisha

Odisha starts trial run of 'OmiSure' kits for detection of Omicron variant

The Odisha government has received 30,000 'OmiSure' RT-PCR test kits for early detection of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, a senior health department official said.

Odisha’s Director of Health Services Bijay Mohapatra said: "The trial run of the Omisure kits are in progress. It will be first used for internal study and the kits will then be dispatched to districts reporting a higher number of cases," he said.

Official sources said the state has received 30,000 'OmiSure' kits in the first phase out of its order of 5 lakh such kits. He said the kits will first be used in four cities - Berhampur, Cuttack, Rourkela and Bhubaneswar. -PTI

National

DGCA extends suspension of scheduled international passenger flights till Feb 28

The suspension of scheduled international passenger flights in the country has been extended till February 28, aviation regulator DGCA said on Wednesday. Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020.  However, special passenger flights have been operating between India and approximately 40 countries since July 2020 under air bubble arrangements formed with them.

In a circular on Wednesday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) stated: "The competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of February 28, 2022."  This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flight specifically approved by the DGCA, it mentioned. -PTI

Sport

NZ's white-ball tour of Australia postponed indefinitely over quarantine-free home return

The Black Caps' white-ball tour of Australia scheduled to start from January 30 has been postponed indefinitely after the New Zealand government could not guarantee relaxation in mandatory hard quarantine upon return of players back home in view of COVID-related restrictions.

The tour comprising three ODIs and one Twenty20 International was scheduled to be played between January 30 and February 8, but it now stands postponed until further notice as there is no guarantee as to when the players could return to New Zealand.

A change of stance from the New Zealand government to impose a hard 10-day mandatory quarantine in response to the Omicron wave of COVID-19 infections meant New Zealand Cricket could not secure guarantees that the Black Caps players would be allowed back into the country. -PTI

National

Active COVID-19 cases in country highest in 232 days

With 2,82,970 new coronavirus infections being reported in a day, India's total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,79,01,241, which includes 8,961 cases of the Omicron variant, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday.

The active cases have increased to 18,31,000, the highest in 232 days. The active cases stood at 18,95,520 on May 31 last year.

The death toll has climbed to 4,87,202 with 441 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.

There has been an 0.79% increase in Omicron cases since Tuesday, the ministry said. -PTI

National

Together, we will fight this pandemic: PM Modi

With over half of youngsters in the 15-18 age group having received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 that young and youthful India is showing the way. He also stressed that it was important to observe all COVID-19 related protocols.

 

National

COVID-19 patients to undergo tests for tuberculosis

The Union Health Ministry has advised the COVID-19 patients to undergo tests for tuberculosis and other conditions if cough persists for more than two-three weeks. It also instructed the States to keep an eye on the decline in the number of COVID-19 tests.

Arti Ahuja, additional secretary, Health Ministry, stated that it was important to effectively track the spread of the pandemic. In a letter to the States, she observed that there should be increased testing in a strategic manner keeping in view the trend of case positivity in specific areas.

 

West Bengal

Kolkata sees dramatic dip in daily COVID-19 cases, restrictions relaxed

West Bengal, particularly its capital Kolkata, has witnessed an overnight dramatic drop in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, making the city breathe easy and encouraging the State government to ease some of the restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only on Sunday, the number of new cases reported for Kolkata and the whole of West Bengal stood at 3,893 and 14,938 respectively. By Monday, these figures had dropped to 1,879 and 9,385 respectively.

Andhra Pradesh

No restriction on entry of vehicles from other States, says East Godavari SP

East Godavari Superintendent of Police (SP) M. Raveendranath Babu on Tuesday stated that there would be no restrictions on the entry of vehicles entering the district from the neighboring States of Telangana, Odisha, and Chhattisgarh.

However, the curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. announced to curb the spread of COVID-19 would be enforced at the inter-State border in East Godavari Agency, which might affect the movement of people, the SP said.

Haryana

Haryana extends Covid curbs till Jan 28, but gyms, spas can operate with 50% capacity

The Haryana government on Tuesday extended Covid restrictions in the state till January 28, but allowed gyms and spas to operate with 50% capacity while liquor vends can now open till 10 pm.

Initially, various restrictions imposed by the January 5 order in "Group A" districts, which had witnessed a big spike in cases, were imposed in all districts, the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority (HSDMA) had said in an earlier order issued on January 13.

Now, the guidelines released through orders on January 5, 10 and 13 will continue as before with modification of allowing gyms and spas to now operate with 50% capacity utilisation while liquor vends will be allowed to open till 10 pm as against 6 pm earlier, as per the HSDMA order. -PTI

International

WHO's top scientist says no evidence healthy kids, adolescents need COVID-19 boosters

The World Health Organization's chief scientist said on Tuesday there was currently no evidence that healthy children and adolescents need booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking at a media briefing, Soumya Swaminathan said that though there seems to be some waning of vaccine immunity against the highly transmissable Omicron variant over time, more research needs to be done to pin down who needs booster doses. -Reuters

USA

White House soft-launches COVID-19 test request website

The Biden administration on Tuesday quietly launched its website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests, a day before the site was scheduled to officially launch.

The website, COVIDTests.gov, now includes a link for Americans to order up four at-home tests per residential address, to be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. It marks the latest step by President Joe Biden to address criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during a nationwide surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant. -AP

New Delhi

Govt. to begin first COVID vaccination camp for sex workers’ children

The Delhi government will set up its first camp for vaccinating sex workers’ children near G.B Road here on Wednesday.

Government sources said 100% of the 1,000-odd adult residents of the area had been administered the first dose and 90% had received their second dose.

In addition to sex workers’ children aged between 15 and 18 years, the Central District Administration, under whose jurisdiction the red light area falls, hopes to include children from underprivileged backgrounds residing nearby for their first of the vaccine at the Anglo Arabic School.

International

Covid vaccines safe during pregnancy: EU watchdog

Studies of pregnant women found the two most widely used Covid vaccines pose no risk to mothers or babies, the EU's drug regulator said on Tuesday.

Research involving some 65,000 women showed "growing evidence" that the Pfizer and Moderna jabs did not cause pregnancy complications, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

The shots also provided increased protection against hospitalisation and death, particularly in late pregnancy, said the watchdog. -AFP

International

Covid pandemic 'nowhere near over': WHO chief

The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, the World Health Organization chief said Tuesday, cautioning against the narrative that the fast-spreading Omicron variant is mild.

"This pandemic is nowhere near over, and with the incredible growth of Omicron globally, new variants are likely to emerge," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters. -AFP

Finland

Finland to begin easing COVID-19 restrictions, prime minister says

Finland will begin gradually easing COVID-19 restrictions from mid-February, Prime Minister Sanna Marin said after a day-long government meeting on Tuesday.

Finland would also stop doing health checks on Schengen Area borders after January as the Finnish health institute had earlier said they do not help with curbing the spread of the pandemic, Marin said.

The government in December decided all travellers coming to Finland would need to show proof of vaccinations or a healed COVID-19 infection and a recent negative test result. -Reuters

International

Endemic Covid would not mean end of danger: WHO

The World Health Organization on Tuesday warned against the notion that the COVID-19 pandemic becoming endemic would mean the disease was no longer dangerous.

"People talk about pandemic versus endemic," the WHO's emergencies director Michael Ryan told a virtual session of the World Economic Forum.

"Endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people; endemic HIV; endemic violence in our inner cities.

"Endemic in itself does not mean good -- endemic just means it's here forever," Ryan told the Davos Agenda roundtable on vaccine equity. -AFP


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