Coronavirus Omicron India Live Updates: Global Omicron surge worries health experts; Need to expand and strengthen vaccination programs around the world, says WHO Chief Scientist

Coronavirus Vaccine Registration, Coronavirus Omicron Variant Cases in India Live Updates: Karnataka’s health minister Dr. Sudhakar K has confirmed five new cases of Omicron variant in the state. “Five new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID19 have been confirmed on December 19 in the State. The five patients are from Dharwad, Bhadravathi, Udupi and Mangaluru,” the minister was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Karnataka is facing a tough situation as it also recorded 300 fresh coronavirus cases on Sunday. The state’s aggregate Covid-19 cases touched 30,02,427 on the same day.

India’s tally of Omicron cases crossed the 150 mark on Sunday after Maharashtra reported six more cases of the new variant. The state’s Omicron tally has now reached to 54. According to news agency PTI, two of these patients had a history of travel to Tanzania, two others had returned from England and one from the Middle East. All five of these persons are fully vaccinated. Another patient is a five-year-old boy from Junnar in Pune who is a close contact of Dubai travellers from Junnar, PTI reported. Maharashtra also recorded 902 new cases of coronavirus and nine deaths on Sunday which makes it clear that the situation is grim in the state. New agency PTI quoted a state health department release saying that Mumbai city reported 321 new cases and two deaths, taking the metropolis’ tally to 7,67,050 and toll to 16,365.

Even the national capital recorded the highest daily rise in Covid cases on Sunday since June 27. According to the data shared by the city health department, Delhi recorded 107 new coronavirus infections on Sunday. On the other hand, Andaman and Nicobar Islands announced their acheivement of 100 percent double dose Covid vaccination. The administration said it was the first among the states and Union territories to achieve the feat using only Covishield.

Internationally speaking, White House’s top medical adviser Dr Anthony Fauci on Sunday said that the Omicron variant is “just raging around the world,” and that US President Joe Biden is planning to give “a stark warning of what the winter will look like” for unvaccinated Americans, news agency PTI reported. The situation in UK seems to be getting worse with more than 10,000 new Omicron cases reported on Sunday. The number of overall Covid-19 infections in the UK stood well above 90,000 cases. Keeping the rapid spread of Omicron variant in the UK, Germany tightened its travel restrictions on people coming from Britain.

Meanwhile, India reported 6,563 new cases of Covid-19, 132 deaths and 8,077 recoveries in the last 24 hours on Monday morning. The country’s active caseload stands at 82,267 which has been the lowest in 572 days, as per the data shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

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The union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands recorded one new COVID-19 case in the last 24 hours, pushing the tally to 7,702, a health department official said on Monday. The single case was detected during contact tracing, he said. The archipelago now has only three active COVID-19 cases and all the patients are in the South Andaman district. The other two districts – North and Middle Andaman and Nicobar – are coronavirus free, the official said. A total of 7,570 people have recovered from COVID-19 so far. The COVID-19 death toll remained at 129 as no fresh fatality due to the contagion was reported in the last 24 hours, he said. The union territory had also reported one new COVID-19 case on Sunday. The administration has so far tested 6,52,064 samples for COVID-19 and the cumulative test positivity rate is 1.18 per cent At least 5,86,145 beneficiaries have been inoculated with COVID-19 vaccine so far, of which 2,98,761 have received the first dose and 2,87,384 both doses of the vaccine, the official added. (PTI)

Amid the fear of spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal has appealed to citizens to avoid gatherings and parties during the upcoming Christmas festival and New Year, and warned of stringent action against those who flout rules. Maharashtra has so far reported 54 cases of the Omicron variant. Out of these, 22 are from Mumbai, including cases found through screening at the international airport here, as per official data. In a press release issued on Sunday, Chahal said due to the new virus variant Omicron, the situation at many countries in the world has once again gone out of control and has created a lockdown-like situation. He said despite repeated appeals by the government and administration to prevent a possible third wave of COVID-19, the guidelines are not being followed properly in most places – especially at wedding ceremonies and other functions, and there is a need to curb the growing crowds at such events. Chahal asked citizens to strictly adhere to rules regarding attendance at weddings and other functions. (PTI)

With 6,563 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 3,47,46,838, while the active cases declined to 82,267, the lowest in 572 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday. The death toll climbed to 4,77,554 with 132 fresh fatalities, according to the data updated at 8 am. The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been recorded below 15,000 for the last 53 days now. The active cases comprise 0.24 per cent of the total infections, the lowest since March 2020, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate was recorded at 98.39 per cent, the highest since March 2020,the ministry said. A decline of 1,646 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. India’s COVID-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23. (PTI)

Australian authorities urged a “move away from fear” of the coronavirus on Monday, resisting calls to make masks mandatory indoors and limit the numbers of patrons at Sydney venues, even as new COVID-19 infections lingered near records. Despite the threat from the more transmissible Omicron variant, life returned to near normal in Sydney last week, with almost all tough curbs lifted ahead of Christmas, as vaccination rates rank among the world’s highest. “There will always be new variants of this virus,” said Dominic Perrottet, premier of the most populous state of New South Wales. “The pandemic is not going away and we need to learn to live alongside it,” he told reporters in Sydney, the state’s capital. “We need to also move away from fear and move to hope and confidence.” While Omicron’s rapid spread across Europe forced a lockdown in the Netherlands and could bring tighter measures elsewhere, Australia is pushing to ease curbs despite a predicted surge in infections, hoping inoculations will help keep people out of hospital. More than 90% of those older than 16 have been immunised in Australia. Perrottet hoped the higher vaccination levels would limit the numbers admitted to hospitals, a figure he urged everyone to focus on. Although experts have called for tough curbs to be reinstated, Perrottet said he was “taking a balanced and proportionate response”. No new deaths were recorded on Monday, despite the surge in infections, with hospitalisation rates far lower than at the peak of the Delta wave. New South Wales reported 2,501 cases, down from the pandemic high of 2,566 on Sunday. The neighbouring state of Victoria had 1,302 new infections, up from 1,240. Australia’s tally of 255,000 infections and 2,146 deaths since the pandemic began is far lower than that of many nations. (Reuters)

With the addition of 105 new cases of coronavirus, the infection count in Maharashtra’s Thane district has gone up to 5,71,227, while one more death raised the toll to 11,601, an official said on Monday. These new cases and death were reported on Sunday, he said. The COVID-19 mortality rate in Thane stood at 2.03 per cent, he added. In neighboring Palghar district, the COVID-19 case count has gone up to 1,38,997, while the death toll stands at 3,307, another official said. (PTI)

Thailand’s public health minister said on Monday that his ministry will propose reinstating mandatory quarantine for foreign visitors due to concerns over the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. The proposal would scrap the current quarantine waiver for vaccinated visitors and revert to hotel quarantine and the “sandbox” programme, which allows free movement within a specific location, Anutin Charnvirakul told the Inside Thailand television show. He said the proposal will be made to the government’s COVID-19 taskforce “soon”, without elaborating further. The minister’s remarks come weeks after Thailand reopened to foreign visitors in November, ending nearly 18 months of strict entry policies that contributed to a collapse in tourism, a key industry and economic driver that drew 40 million visitors in 2019. Anutin said Thailand had detected 63 people infected with the Omicron variant so far, with one case of local transmission within the same household and the rest imported cases. (Reuters)

Researchers in the UK are using new ways to rapidly develop and mass manufacture mRNA vaccines and therapeutics at low cost against COVID-19 and a range of other diseases. The research project will boost the UK’s and the world’s ability to rapidly develop new vaccines in response to new variants of COVID-19 and also future pandemics. In non-emergency times, the new production technology will give developers and manufacturers access to the state-of-the-art processes needed to produce new vaccines and treatments for other major diseases such as cancer, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular conditions and autoimmune diseases much faster, the University of Sheffield said in a statement on Sunday. “The vaccines produced for COVID-19 have shown us what is possible using RNA technology. In one of the greatest scientific accomplishments of our generation, RNA technology has demonstrated the ability to change the timeline for developing and delivering a vaccine from years to months,” said the lead researcher Zoltan Kis from the university’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. “This is a versatile and transformative technology that can be used to develop and mass-produce vaccines and treatments for other diseases. To achieve this, we need to ensure that researchers across the globe have access to the very latest, state-of-the-art RNA manufacturing processes to support their research, development and large-scale production programmes,” Kis said. (PTI)