Here are the latest updates :
Cultural activities resume in Odisha
After a significant improvement in the COVID-19 situation, the Odisha government has permitted cultural activities such as operas, open air theatres and street plays.
The State has been reporting fewer than 300 COVID-19 cases for the past nine days and active cases have remained in single digit in six districts. Keonjhar district does not have any active case.
129 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses provided to States, UTs: Union Health Ministry
Over 129 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been provided to States and Union Territories so far through free of cost channel and through direct State procurement category, the Union Health Ministry said on Saturday.
More than 21.65 crore balance and unutilized Covid vaccine doses are still available with the States and Union Territories, it said.
The ministry asserted that the Union government was committed to accelerating the pace and expanding the scope of COVID-19 vaccination throughout the country. - PTI
Hong Kong authorises Sinovac vaccine for children aged 3-17
Hong Kong has approved lowering the age limit for the COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech to three years old, down from 18 years of age, as it pursues a broader campaign to incentivise its 7.5 million residents to get vaccinated.
"Adolescents aged 12 to 17 will be accorded priority to receive the CoronaVac vaccine, with a view to extending to children of a younger age group at a later stage," Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health (SFH) Sophia Chan said in a statement published on Saturday.
According to the statement, the SFH considered that the benefits of approving the extension of the age eligibility to cover those aged three to 17 "outweigh the risks". - Reuters
Pro and anti-vaccination protesters take to Australia streets
Several thousand people took to Australia's streets on November 20 protesting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, while smaller crowds gathered to support the measures that have elevated the country to be one of the most inoculated in the world.
Nearly 85% of Australians aged 16 and above have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus as of November 19. While nationwide vaccinations are voluntary, States and territories have mandated vaccinations for many occupations and barred the unvaccinated from activities such as dining out and concerts.
Chanting 'Freedom, freedom' and carrying 'End Segregation Now' signs, several thousand anti-vaccination protesters marched through Melbourne's downtown, Australia's second-most populous city that was hit the hardest by the pandemic. - Reuters
Australian Open head to Djokovic: no vaccine status, no play
Australian Open chief Craig Tiley confirmed on November 20 that everyone who attends the first Grand Slam tennis tournament of 2022 will need to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, including all the players.
That continues to leave the status of defending and nine-time champion Djokovic in question. Djokovic , who has refused to say if he’s vaccinated, would be attempting to win a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.
The tournament is scheduled for January 17-30. The Victorian State government had earlier said only vaccinated persons would be allowed into the site for the tournament, and Tiley reiterated that on November 20. - AP
India logs 10,302 fresh Covid infections, 267 more deaths; active cases decline to 1,24,868
India's COVID-19 infection tally rose by 10,302 in a day to reach 3,44,99,925 while the number of active cases declined to 1,24,868 during the same period, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday.
The death toll climbed to 4,65,349 with 267 more fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 a.m.
Active cases decreased by 1,752 in 24 hours and now comprise 0.36% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020. Also, the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.29%, the highest since March last year, the Health Ministry said. - PTI
Two wounded as Dutch police fire shots at protest over new COVID-19 restrictions
Crowds of rioters torched cars and threw rocks at police who responded with shots and water canon, as protests against COVID-19 measures turned violent in the port city of Rotterdam on Friday night.
"We fired warning shots and there were also direct shots fired because the situation was life-threatening," police spokesperson Patricia Wessels told Reuters.
"We know that at least two people were wounded, probably as a result of the warning shots, but we need to investigate the exact causes further," she said. - Reuters
Canada approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for kids
Canada’s health regulator approved Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot on Friday and announced it will allow Canadians returning from short trips abroad to use a quicker, less-expensive test for the coronavirus.
Health Canada authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11. And as in the U.S., the doses will be just a third of the amount given to teens and adults.
But Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has suggested that the country’s provinces, which administer health care in the country, offer the two doses at least eight weeks apart. - AP
U.S. authorises COVID-19 booster shots for all adults
The U.S. on November 19 authorised Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all people aged 18 and older, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said.
Boosters were previously available to the immune compromised, over 65s, people at high risk of severe disease and people in high risk occupations. The decision “helps to provide continued protection against COVID-19, including the serious consequences that can occur, such as hospitalisation and death”, said acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock.
“This emergency use authorisation comes at a critical time as we enter the winter months and face increasing COVID-19 case counts and hospitalisations across the country,” added Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel. The FDA said it based its decision on strong immune response data from hundreds of people dosed with the two vaccines. - AP
Kerala achieves 60% full vaccination coverage
Kerala has achieved 60% full vaccination coverage of its eligible population (above 18 years) against COVID-19, Health Minister Veena George said here in a statement on Friday.
The State has so far administered 2,55,70,531 first doses of COVID-19 vaccine, covering 95.74% of its eligible population and 1,61,48,434 second doses, covering 60.46% of those above 18 years. Kerala is much ahead of the national vaccination figures, where the first dose coverage is 81.22% and the second dose coverage, 41.94%
Ms. George appealed to those who are yet to take the first dose of vaccine to get it done as soon as possible.
Japan unveils record stimulus to boost pandemic recovery
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida announced a record $490 billion stimulus for the world’s third-largest economy Friday as he looks to shore up the country’s patchy pandemic recovery.
The 56 trillion yen injection, the third since the Covid crisis struck last year, “is enough to deliver a sense of safety and hope to the Japanese people”, Mr. Kishida said. The vast spending plans are expected to be approved by the Cabinet later in the day and reportedly include cash and coupon handouts to families with children under 18 who meet an income cap, as well as pay rises for nurses and careworkers.
Vaccination must for being in public places in Tamil Nadu
Through a circular issued on Thursday, the Directorate of Public Health has made vaccination against COVID-19 mandatory for people in public places in Tamil Nadu.
In a move to make COVID-19 vaccination compulsory for the eligible population, the Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has invoked provisions under the Tamil Nadu Public Health Act, 1939, to ensure that public places, including markets, theatres and factories, are occupied only by those vaccinated against COVID-19.
Over the past few weeks, the uptake of vaccination, both among those yet to take the first dose and those due/overdue for the second, has slowed down in the State. The overall coverage of inoculation stands at 6,45,72,433.
COVID-19 guidelines issued for Council polls in Karnataka
In view of the current COVID-19 situation, the Health and Family Welfare Department has issued guidelines for the conduct of the Legislative Council elections. The jurisdictional District Health Officer (DHO) has been designated as the nodal officer to enforce COVID-19-appropriate behaviour during the entire election process.
According to a circular issued on Friday, use of a face mask during every election-related activity has been made mandatory. Apart from mandatory thermal scanning at the entrance of the hall/polling station, the polling officials have been asked to ensure sanitiser, soap, and water is made available and physical distancing of one metre (three feet) is maintained at all times.
Pointing out that large halls should be identified and utilised to ensure physical distancing norms, the circular stated: “Adequate number of vehicles should be mobilised for movement of polling personnel and security personnel to ensure compliance of COVID-19 guidelines.”
Austria to enter lockdown, bring in mandatory vaccinations
Austrian Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg said Friday that the country will go into a national lockdown to contain a fourth wave of coronavirus cases.
Mr Schallenberg said the lockdown will start Monday and initially last for 10 days. Most stores will close, and cultural events will be cancelled.
He initially said all students would have to go back into home schooling.
Wolfgang Mueckstein, the country's health minister, later said that kindergartens and schools would remain open for those who needed to go there but all parents were asked to keep their children at home if possible. - AP