Coronavirus updates | December 31, 2020

A vendor wearing a facemask as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 coronavirus waits for customers at his shop in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: AFP

India has reported five new cases of the mutant variant of SARS-CoV-2 virus — four found by NIV, Pune, and one was sequenced in IGIB, Delhi — taking the total number of these cases to 25 on Thursday as per information released by the Health Ministry.

It added that a consortium of 10 government laboratories had so far found a total of 25 cases of mutant U.K. virus after genome sequencing.

Data released by the Ministry said that the active COVID-19 cases in the country had now declined to 2.57 lakh. The total positive cases are 2,57,656 and now comprise 2.51% of the total cases.

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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 live updates:

Odisha

Night curfew in Odisha on Dec 31

The Odisha government has imposed a night curfew from 10 pm on Thursday to avoid large gatherings during the New Year celebrations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The restriction will remain in place till 5 am on Friday, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) P K Jena said.

Taking to Twitter, the SRC said, "Govt (Government) of Odisha imposing night curfew from 10 pm of tonight to 5 am tomorrow across the state. General public requested to cooperate. All essential services & movements are allowed to continue during the curfew hours."

West Bengal

No night curfew in Bengal on New Year's eve: Chief Secretary

Night curfew will not be imposed in West Bengal on New Year''s eve as the situation is not that adverse, a senior official has said.

The State government, however, will take all precautionary measures to prevent large gatherings on the occasion, he said.

The current situation is not conducive to imposing a night curfew, Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said.

"New Year celebrations are organised at a few places in West Bengal. If people abide by the COVID-19 safety protocols and cooperate with the police and administration, large gatherings can be avoided," he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs has permitted states and union territories to impose local restrictions such as night curfew, if necessary, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

New Delhi

Over 36K ventilators delivered to govt hospitals amid COVID: Govt

The Health Ministry said on Thursday that it had ensured delivery of 36,433 ventilators to government hospitals in the country and the average cost now ranges between Rs 2-10 lakh as the domestic industry took up manufacturing of the equipment.

The ministry underlined that all public health facilities in the country had only around 16,000 ventilators from the Independence till pre-COVID times.

But in less than 12 months, 36,433 ''Make in India'' ventilators have been supplied to all the public health facilities, it said in a statement.

All export restrictions on ventilators have now been removed and ''Make in India'' ventilators are being exported. The year witnessed tremendous achievements in the medical supplies sector in the country, the ministry said.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, India was almost totally dependent on imported ventilators, PPE kits and N-95 masks," it said. "There were, in fact, no standard specifications for these products which are essential in the fight against the pandemic." The central government recognised the challenges posed by the pandemic in the very initial stages and successfully ensured more than adequate availability and supplies of essential medical items across the country, according to the ministry.

 

The availability of vaccines

'India the only country to have a stock pile of vaccines'

In a webinar on COVID-19 vaccinations, Gagandeep Kang, Professor, CMC Vellore spoke, "People still view participation in clinical trials as being guinea pigs and we have done nothing to address the trust issues relating to clinical research. We are now seeing significant problems in recruitment in Phase-3 trials because our communication strategies about clinical research tend to be very very limited."

The pandemic has seen a dramatic change in academia, industry and funding agencies working together. It's a fantastic start and we are seeing results but we have a long way to go.

"Serum Institute has a stockpile of 75 million doses of the Oxford vaccine and by 1st week of January will have 100 million doses. India is the only country that has such a stock pile," said Umesh Shaligram, Director, R&D, Serum Institute.

Pfizer and Moderna, though they have emergency use authorisation, are having a tough time with supply and manufacturing. We are also stockpiling Novavax and once these authorisations are through, can supply billions of doses.

Krishna Mohan of Bharat Biotech said, "We are also working on a nasal vaccine that doesn't need syringes. That should make immunisation smoother and easier."

"We will have a happy new year with something in hand, I can hint at that," said VG Somani, Drug Controller General of India.

Mr. Somani said, "There is a challenge in that people may not be inclined to participate in a trial once a vaccine is available under emergency use. However this won't be a problem till the next 3-4 months."

Renu Swarup, Secy, DBT said, "In 4k-5k samples that we have sequenced so far,  we haven't found an 'Indian variant'."

Shahid Jameel, virologist, and head, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University said, "Minor mutations will not affect vaccine efficacy. But from a scientific perspective widespread, large rollout use of vaccines may generate a selection pressure, in that certain mutations could accumulate and reduce efficacy. We have seen this in hepatitis B. However so far in the short term it looks like the new variant isn't particularly increasing mortality."

"Until we have a better understanding of vaccinated populations, we should continue wearing masks even after gutting vaccinated," added Gagandeep Kang of CMC.

- Jacob Koshy

New Delhi

Night curfew in Delhi on December 31, January 1 in Delhi

The Delhi government has imposed a night curfew in the city from 11 p.m. on Thursday to 6 a.m. on Friday, and more than five people will not be allowed to gather in public places during this time.

“Night curfew will be in force (not more than five persons to assemble at public places) and that no New Year celebratory events, congregations and gatherings at public places shall be permitted from 11.00 p.m. of 31st December to 6.00 a.m. of 1st January and also from 11.00 pm of 1st January to 6.00 a.m. of 2nd January in the GNCT of Delhi,” an order issued by the Chief Secretary on Wednesday read.

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Caseload update

India registers 21,822 new cases

India's COVID-19 caseload increased to 1,02,66,674 with 21,822 new infections being reported in a day, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 98.60 lakh pushing the national recovery rate over 96%, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.

The death toll increased to 1,48,738 with 299 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 98,60,280 pushing the national recovery rate to 96.04%, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.45%.

The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 3 lakh for the tenth consecutive day. - PTI

Delhi

Night curfew imposed in Delhi on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1

The Delhi government has imposed a night curfew in the city from 11 p.m. on Thursday to 6 a.m. on Friday, and more than five people will not be allowed to gather in public places during this time.

“Night curfew will be in force (not more than five persons to assemble at public places) and that no New Year celebratory events, congregations and gatherings at public places shall be permitted from 11.00 p.m. of 31st December to 6.00 a.m. of 1st January and also from 11.00 pm of 1st January to 6.00 a.m. of 2nd January in the GNCT of Delhi,” an order issued by the Chief Secretary on Wednesday read.

Licensed premises will not be counted as “public places”, the order said. Also, there will be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods during the curfew period.

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Karnataka

New strain: Surge unlikely in Karnataka

Although seven of the U.K. returnees have been found to be positive for the new variant of SARS-CoV-2, Karnataka is unlikely to witness a surge beyond what it has already witnessed, according to experts.

This is mainly because nearly half of the population in the State has already been exposed to COVID-19 by now and has developed immunity. This immunity is likely to work against the new strain too. Moreover, none of the primary and secondary contacts of the seven U.K. returnees have tested positive for the new strain so far. This is a good indication for the State, experts said.

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Telangana

Health staff traces majority of the 156 UK returnees

Most of the 156 people, who had arrived in Telangana from the United Kingdom and remained untraceable, were finally tracked down by Health department staff with the help of police.

They could be not be traced earlier as their addresses and phone numbers were incorrect. The foreign returnees had shifted from the addresses mentioned in their passport, or had given UK phone numbers, wrong phone numbers or kept their phones switched off.

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Tamil Nadu

Study encourages research on ‘kabasura kudineer’

A study based on computer modelling, published in an open-access peer-reviewed journal, has preliminarily indicated that certain compounds in kabasura kudineer can potentially play a role in antiviral therapy, particularly against COVID-19.

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West Bengal

Mutant strain of virus reported in Kolkata

The first case of the mutant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was reported in Kolkata on Wednesday in a youth who returned recently from the U.K. He is presently under isolation at the Calcutta Medical College. The State Health Department has advised all who have come in contact with him to remain in isolation.

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Kerala

Pandemic fears return to haunt Sabarimala

With just hours left for the second phase of the annual pilgrim season at the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple to begin, the diagnosis of 37 COVID-19 positive cases, including two priests, at Sannidhanam, has once again cast a shadow over the hill shrine.

According to the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), head priest (Melsanthi) V.K. Jayaraj Potti and six of his assistants have been sent to quarantine in view of their close interaction with three persons who tested positive recently.

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Food and dining

What 2021 holds for the restaurant business

It isn’t over yet. Although 2020 is drawing to a close, COVID-19 and its gnarly web of associated challenges, from lockdowns to the fear economy, will continue to cast their shadows over the next few years, shaping restaurants and influencing meals.

However, the battered industry is fighting back — including offering groceries during lockdown, kerbside pickups, DIY kits, QR code menus and chef-led cooking classes on Instagram. The challenges triggered invention, innovation and creativity as the virus taught people they need to join hands to survive, and changed dining out in unprecedented ways. What will your next dinner out look like?

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 7:08:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-updates-december-31-2020/article33459887.ece

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