Coronavirus updates | September 23, 2021

A boy displays his Covishield COVID-19 vaccination certificate in New Delhi, India, September 22, 2021. Travelers and authorities from India and many African countries are furious and confused about Britain’s new COVID-19 travel rules, calling them discriminatory. Covishield was added to the U.K.’s list of approved vaccines for travelers on September 22, but the group of approved public health bodies remained unchanged, meaning the practical effect of the move is limited   | Photo Credit: AP

The U.K. government on September 22 issued an updated international travel advisory to include AstraZeneca’s Covishield among the eligible COVID-19 vaccine formulations but kept India out of the 17 countries on an approved vaccinations list, requiring Indians to follow rules set out for non-vaccinated travellers.

Read | Rulings that impact a State’s medical infrastructure

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 developments:


Health Ministry press conference

Though India is showing a decline in new COVID-19 numbers, the surge isn’t over, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said at the Health Ministry press conference.

"We have to continue adhering to norms. We have to ensure that people should take their vaccination."

"Kerala and Mizoram remain states of concern."

66% of adult population has received its first dose of COVID-19 vaccine: V.K. Paul, Niti Aayog.

Health ministry now allows COVID-19 vaccination at home facility for those with restricted mobility, disability and other special needs, he says.

- Bindu Shajan Perappadan


Mandaviya releases guidelines on treatment of sequelae of COVID-19

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya released guidelines on the treatment of sequelae of COVID-19 which will help in building the capacity of doctors, nurses, paramedics and community health workers across India to deal with long-term effects of the coronavirus infection.

The minister said that the modules have been prepared to provide guidance to doctors and healthcare workers to deal with the issue of long-term effects of COVID-19, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

"We have witnessed the consequences of post-Covid effect in patients due to taking higher doses of steroids like cases of Mucormycosis. It is important to take medicines, with less or negligible side effects. If we are alert beforehand, it will be fruitful in tackling the future consequences of Covid," he was quoted as saying in the statement.

"The perceptions related to post-Covid that are perpetuating in our society like fears, mental health issues resulting due to Covid are important to be tackled. So, it's important to understand these post-Covid issues and resolve them," Mr. Mandaviya stated.


Back to school: lessons from around the world

Students going back to school

Students going back to school   | Photo Credit: iStock


As India joins 100+ countries worldwide where children are attending in-person school, we look at some global best practices

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West Bengal

Jadavpur university announces free vaccination camp for students

Jadavpur University has announced a free vaccination camp will be held for students and other stakeholders following persistent demands and demonstrations by different student organisations.

Registrar Snehamanju Basu said in a notification on September 22 that the West Bengal government has consented to the proposal by the university in this regard and the camp will be organised soon and the date and venue will be notified. -PTI


COVID-19 may be linked to risk of Guillain-Barre syndrome: Study

Infection with the virus that causes COVID-19 may be associated with risk of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, a disorder in which a person's immune system attacks the nerves, causing muscle weakness and occasionally paralysis, according to a study published on September 23.

Besides the well-known severe respiratory signs, and the risk of long-term complications in COVID-19, researchers and public health officials have also reported neurological complications linked with the disease.

Guillain-Barre syndrome, an autoimmune disorder which can last for weeks or several years, is relatively rare but can be severe. The condition is triggered by an acute bacterial or viral infection. -PTI


Valneva expands trials on COVID-19 vaccine candidate

French vaccines company Valneva said on September 23 that it was expanding trials on its 'VLA2001' COVID-19 vaccine candidate and remained in talks with the European Commission over a potential contract.

"Valneva continues discussions with the European Commission regarding a potential VLA2001 supply contract. The company is also actively pursuing opportunities to make VLA2001 available to other customers, subject to positive Cov-Compare data and regulatory approval," it said in a statement. -Reuters


Active COVID-19 cases lowest in 187 days

India added 31,923 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 3,35,63,421, while the active cases declined to 3,01,640, the lowest in 187 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on September 23.

The death toll climbed to 4,46,050 with 282 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am.

The active cases comprise 0.90% of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 97.77%, the highest since March 2020, the ministry said. -PTI


Taiwan says plans to contribute to global fund on fighting pandemics

Taiwan plans to contribute to a new fund run by the World Bank fund to fight pandemics and will also share vaccines globally once it has enough domestic supply, former Taiwan Vice President Chen Chien-jen told a virtual summit on COVID-19.

U.S. President Joe Biden on September 22 promised at the summit to buy 500 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to donate to other countries. The U.S. government is also calling for a $10 billion global health security financial intermediary fund, or FIF, to be run by the World Bank. -Reuters

New Zealand

New Zealand's Ardern says lockdown can end with high vaccine uptake

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on September 23 the country should aim for a 90% plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

"If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool," she said.

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FDA backs Pfizer COVID-19 boosters for seniors, high-risk

The U.S. moved a step closer September 22 to offering booster doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to senior citizens and others at high risk from the virus as the Food and Drug Administration signed off on the targeted use of extra shots.

The FDA authorized booster doses for Americans who are 65 and older, younger adults with underlying health conditions and those in jobs that put them at high risk for COVID-19. The ruling represents a drastically scaled back version of the Biden administration’s sweeping plan to give third doses to nearly all American adults to shore up their protection amid the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.

However, more regulatory hurdles lie ahead before the dispensing of boosters can begin. -AP


Melbourne faces more anti-lockdown protests as daily cases hit pandemic high

Police in Australia's second-largest city of Melbourne prepared for a fourth day of anti-lockdown protests on September 23 after more than 200 arrests a day earlier, while COVID-19 cases across the state of Victoria hit a daily record.

Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets in the city of 5 million since officials earlier this week ordered a two-week closure of building sites and made vaccines mandatory for construction workers to limit the spread of the virus. -Reuters


Quad partnership on track to produce at least 1 billion vaccine doses in India: Biden

The Quad partnership is on track to produce at least a billion vaccine doses in India by 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden said on September 22, asserting that nothing is more urgent than working together to defeat COVID-19 so the world is much better prepared for future pandemics.

The United States and its international partners are working quickly to scale up vaccine manufacturing in other countries around the world so they can manufacture as well, Mr. Biden said in his virtual address to the Global Summit to End COVID-19.

“We're working with partner nations, pharmaceutical companies, and other manufacturers to increase their own capacity and capability to produce and manufacture safe and highly effective vaccines in their own countries,” Biden said. -PTI


Brazil's Bolsonaro in COVID-19 isolation after trip to U.N.

President Jair Bolsonaro, just back from the United Nations, isolated himself at home on September 23 and canceled a trip after his health minister tested positive for COVID-19 and had to stay in quarantine in New York.

Brazil's health regulator Anvisa recommended that the entire presidential delegation to the U.N. General Assembly remain in isolation and undergo more tests. Mr. Bolsonaro's only appointment on September 22 was changed to a remote meeting. -Reuters


Japan to double COVID-19 vaccine donations to other countries to 60 million doses

Japan plans to give other countries 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on September 23, doubling the target from the previous pledge of 30 million doses.

"Today, I am pleased to announce that, with additional contributions, Japan will provide up to approximately 60 million doses of vaccine in total," Mr. Suga said in a pre-recorded video message at the U.S.-hosted Global COVID-19 Summit.

Of the first 30 million, Japan has already provided about 23 million doses mostly to Asian countries including Taiwan, Vietnam and Indonesia. -Reuters


U.S.' Blinken to convene foreign ministers on COVID-19 commitments before year's end

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on September 22 he would personally convene world foreign ministers before the end of the year to follow up on commitments made toward fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

At a virtual COVID-19 summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, President Joe Biden earlier promised to buy 500 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses to donate to other countries as the United States comes under increasing pressure to share its supply with the rest of the world.

Mr. Blinken said he would convene foreign ministers to follow up on commitments made at the virtual summit and at an upcoming G20 meeting, ahead of a meeting of heads of state led by Biden to be held in the first quarter of 2022. -Reuters

Madhya Pradesh

Mega COVID-19 vaccination drive in M.P. on September 27 to achieve 100% first jab target

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on September 22 announced a mega COVID-19 vaccination campaign on September 27 to achieve the target of 100% first dose inoculation of eligible people.

The State government has been organising special drives to expand vaccination coverage.

“On September 27, the State will again hold a vaccination campaign. In this campaign, the first dose of COVID-19 vaccines will be administered on priority to eligible persons who are yet to receive a jab,” he said. -PTI


U.S. VP Harris to announce $10 billion global fund to prepare for future pandemics

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris on September 22 will call on countries and companies around the world to create a $10 billion global health fund to prepare for future pandemics, and announce a $250 million contribution from the United States to jumpstart the effort, a White House official said.

Ms. Harris will make the announcement during a virtual COVID-19 summit being held on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly. It is aimed at boosting vaccinations worldwide with the goal of ending the COVID-19 pandemic by the end of 2022.

Ms. Harris will be chairing a session on preventing future pandemics, a senior administration official said. -Reuters


International travel should be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates: PM Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on September 22 that international travel should be made easier through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates, amid several countries adopting different sets of rules to allow foreigners to enter their territory in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his video remarks at the Global COVID Summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, Mr. Modi also said India is ramping up production capacity of existing vaccines and the supply chains of raw materials must be kept open so that vaccine supplies to other countries can be resumed.

"We also need to focus on addressing the pandemic’s economic effects. To that end, international travel should be made easier, through mutual recognition of vaccine certificates," Mr. Modi said. -PTI


Vietnam approves purchase of 20 million Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine doses

Vietnam allowed a contractor on September 22 to buy 20 million doses of Chinese Sinopharm coronavirus vaccine as the country looks to shore up supplies to tackle its worst outbreak yet.

In a statement, the government did not name the contractor and time frame for the purchase. On September 20, the government also approved the purchase of 10 million doses of Cuba's Abdala COVID-19 vaccine.

Vietnam has received nearly 44.7 million coronavirus vaccines from multiple sources, including the international COVAX scheme, donations and its own purchases. -Reuters


Full vaccination mandatory for I-League players: CEO Sunando Dhar

All the footballers taking part in the I-League starting in December will have to be fully vaccinated except for U-18 players and those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 infection, League CEO Sunando Dhar said on Wednesday.

The league is expected to be held under bio-secure environment with strict COVID-19 protocols in Kolkata and its surrounding suburbs.

“It will be mandatory for all the players and officials taking part in the I-League and I-League qualifiers to have both doses of COVID-19 vaccination. The only exception will be the players who are under-18 years and those who cannot be vaccinated due to recent recovery from the infection,” Mr. Dhar said in an interview.

New Delhi

JNU to reopen for third-year scholars

Jawaharlal Nehru University will start with its third phase of reopening from September 23 in which all third-year PhD research scholars, both hostellers and day scholars, will be allowed to enter the campus.

The university said that it had taken this decision keeping with the guidelines issued by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority regarding reopening of educational institutions with maximum of 50% of seating capacity and strict compliance with the standard operating procedures.

It added that phase IV of the reopening will commence on September 27 in which all final-year MSc, BTech fourth-year and MBA final-year students will be allowed to enter and reside on the campus.

Read more


Centre files plea against allowing 2nd dose of Covishield earlier, says it will derail policy

The Centre on September 22 filed an appeal in the Kerala High Court against its order allowing the second Covishield dose after four weeks from the first for those who want to take it earlier than the present suggested gap of 84 days by saying if the decision is not set aside it could derail the vaccination policy of the country.

The Centre, in its appeal, contends that the September 3 judgement of a Single Judge of the High Court if not set aside would result in disorder in the implementation of the strategy of the Union government to fight COVID-19.

The September 3 decision by Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar had come on a plea by Kitex Garments Ltd, represented by advocate Blaze K. Jose, seeking permission to administer the second dose of the vaccine to its workers without having to wait for 84 days. -PTI

New Delhi

Delhi govt Covid aid: 'Surviving member certificate' not needed if applicant is spouse of deceased

The Delhi government has done away with the requirement of submitting 'surviving member certificates' with applications under its COVID-19 death compensation policy if the applicant is the spouse of the deceased, while it will remain mandatory in other cases.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot with officials of the department on September 22.

"It has been decided that under the 'Mukhyamantri COVID-19 Parivar Arthik Sahayata Yojna', there will no longer be a need for obtaining a surviving member certificate (SMC) from the applicant in cases where one of the spouses is alive," a revenue department statement said. -PTI


COVID-19 contingency plan in place for Ryder Cup

If a golfer playing in the Ryder Cup later this week tests positive for COVID-19, a contingency plan is set, following a rarely-used rule involving secret names placed in envelopes.

European captain Padraig Harrington said on Tuesday said that he and U.S. captain Steve Stricker agreed to have a “COVID envelope” in addition to an injury envelope — to be used in the event that the coronavirus takes one of their players out of competition. The envelope contingency is only necessary for the singles matches that conclude the three-day event.

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Young children’s diets show no improvement in last decade, ‘could get worse’ under Covid: UNICEF

Children under the age of two are not getting adequate food or nutrients they need to thrive and grow well, leading to irreversible developmental harm, according to a new UNICEF report which warned that COVID-19 pandemic could worsen the situation.

The report titled 'Fed to Fail? The Crisis of Children's Diets in Early Life’ was released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit this week.

The study was conducted after discussions with mothers and it was found that about one in three young children in Australia, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Serbia and Sudan are fed at least one processed or ultra-processed food or drink daily. -PTI


Singapore suspends hospital ward visits to manage strain on capacity at some hospitals

Singapore's Health Ministry is suspending all visits to hospital wards from September 24 as the detection of COVID-19 cases among staff, patients and visitors has put a strain on staffing and capacity at some hospitals.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has also assured that the Ministry of Health's (MOH) COVID-19 case management task group is doing its "best to scale up" operations and make sure all patients are well cared for. -PTI


Not aware of any concerns being raised by the UK, says NHA CEO on vaccine certification issue

National Health Authority CEO R.S. Sharma on September 22 said he was not aware of any concerns being raised by the U.K. about India's COVID-19 vaccine certification and stressed that the Co-WIN system is WHO-compliant.

Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield will still have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the U.K. even after the vaccine was approved under the revised guidelines for travel on September 22.

British officials suggested the main issue is COVID-19 vaccine certification and not the Covishield vaccine and that both India and the U.K. are holding talks to mutually resolve the matter. -PTI


Don’t drop vigil during festive season, TAC tells Karnataka govt.

With the festival season approaching and at least 11 festivals falling in October–November when the third wave is predicted, the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has recommended that the State should not permit any relaxations in the next two months to prevent any surge. Strict curbs in shopping and market areas should be put in place even during the days preceding the festivals, the TAC has recommended.

The TAC, which met on Sunday, has said that the State should closely monitor the case trajectories in all districts on a daily basis to identify early warning signals and ensure imposition of restrictions.

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With domestic manufacturing picking up pace, India unlikely to buy Pfizer, Moderna vaccines for now: Sources

India is unlikely to buy Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for now as the domestic manufacturing of anti-coronavirus jabs has picked up pace, sources said with the total doses administered in the country crossing 83 crore on September 22.

Though there is no official word, the sources said the government is not ready to give in to the indemnity demands of the U.S. drug manufacturers against liabilities in case of adverse effects.

The Pune-based pharmaceutical company Serum Institute of India has enhanced the manufacturing capacity of Covishield to more than 20 crore doses per month and has informed the Centre that it will be able to supply around 22 crore doses in October.

Also, Bharat Biotech is currently producing nearly 3 crores doses of Covaxin each month and its production is likely to be ramped up to 5 crores in the coming months. -PTI


Vaccinate all above 18 within 3 months, Telangana High Court tells State government

Telangana High Court on Tuesday instructed the State government to ensure that all persons above the age of 18 years got inoculated with two doses of COVID vaccine within three months.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice T. Vinod Kumar passed this direction while hearing a batch of petitions connected to COVID-19. The bench also directed the government to administer vaccination to all members of the teaching and non-teaching staff of schools within two months.

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Schools in Kerala to re-open in staggered manner from November 1, says CM

Schools, closed in Kerala for a year-and-a-half following the COVID-19 outbreak, would reopen from November 1 starting with classes 1 to 7, 10 and 12, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said on September 22.

Speaking to reporters, the Chief Minister said the remaining classes would commence from November 15 and preparations for re-opening of the schools are in full swing.

To ensure protection and safety of children attending the classes, the Health and Education Ministers would be convening a high-level meeting on September 23 and thereafter, a draft plan of action would be prepared and discussed with other departments before it is finalised, he said. -PTI

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