Coronavirus live | U.S. faces a double COVID-19 surge as Omicron advances

The cumulative COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the country neared 136 crore on Thursday, the Union Health Ministry said

A total of 113 countries accept India’s Covid vaccination certificate with some of them having explicitly reached agreements for mutual recognition of certificates with India, while others have their own protocols which apply to all inoculated travellers, the government informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

Read | Reflections on flying blind into the storm

The Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 infects and multiplies faster than the Delta variant and original SARS-CoV-2 in the human bronchus, which may explain why it may transmit faster between people than previous variants. However, it does not easily infect the lower lungs and this, researchers say, potentially explains why instances of severe disease are proportionally lower in cases involving Omicron.

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 latest developments:

U.N. chief urges ‘concrete’ moves on year-end vaccine goal

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres exhorted the world Thursday, December 16, 2021, to make “concrete" progress within days toward a now-distant goal of vaccinating 40% of the global population against COVID-19 before the year ends.

“Vaccine inequity is giving variants a free pass to run wild,” Mr. Guterres — working from home because of exposure to the coronavirus — told reporters by videoconference as countries grappled with the spread of the virus’ omicron variant.

“The strategy of vaccine hoarding, the strategy of vaccine nationalism or the strategy of vaccine diplomacy has failed. This new variant has demonstrated this failure,” said Mr. Guterres, who came into contact last week with someone who tested positive for the virus; it’s not clear which version. Mr. Guterres has since tested negative but said he’s remaining in isolation until the end of this week.

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TAC for imposing Sec. 144, night curfew in the run-up to New Year

Celebrations that draw crowds and revellers on New Year’s Eve in the State will not be allowed this year too, if the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee’s (TAC) recommendations are implemented.

Recommending curbs for Christmas and New Year celebrations in Karnataka, TAC has advised the government to impose Section 144 from December 22 to January 2 and night curfew from December 30 till January 2 in Bengaluru and other identified cities across the State.

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Brazil regulator approves Covid vaccine for children

Brazil’s health regulator approved the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine Thursday for use in children aged five to 11, joining a growing list of countries green-lighting vaccination for kids.

However, it is not clear when the hard-hit South American country will begin vaccinating children, if at all.

The matter now passes to the health ministry, which will first have to decide whether to add Covid-19 vaccines for five- to 11-year-olds to the national immunization program and acquire child-size doses — one-third the adult dose. -AFP

Pakistan-West Indies ODI series called off over Covid cases

A one-day international series between hosts Pakistan and the West Indies starting this weekend was called off Thursday because of a Covid-19 outbreak among the visitors, officials from both sides said.

Five members of the West Indies squad — including three players — tested positive for Covid on Thursday, in addition to four cases reported at the weekend.

The three-match series, which was due to start Saturday, is part of the qualifying round for the 2023 World Cup. -AFP

EU summit to discuss spread of Omicron

A summit of European Union leaders on Thursday is trying to coordinate action to tackle the surge of coronavirus infections across the continent and the emergence of the new Omicron variant while keeping borders open.

With the festive season looming, the bloc’s leaders want to avoid a confusing mixture of rules and to ensure all 27 member states are on the same page and that COVID-19 certificates continue to guarantee unrestricted travel.

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U.S. faces a double COVID-19 surge as Omicron advances

The new Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV-2 speeding around the world may bring another wave of chaos, threatening to further stretch hospital workers already struggling with a surge of Delta cases and upend holiday plans for the second year in a row.

The White House on Wednesday insisted there was no need for a lockdown because vaccines are widely available and appear to offer protection against the worst consequences of the virus.

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CDC panel recommends Pfizer, Moderna vaccines over J&J shot

Most Americans should be given the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines instead of the Johnson & Johnson shot that can cause rare but serious blood clots, U.S. health advisers recommended Thursday.

The strange clotting problem has caused nine confirmed deaths after J&J vaccinations — while the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines don’t come with that risk and also appear to be more effective, advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. -AP

Nashik: At least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for entry at public places from December 23

In a bid to increase the anti-coronavirus inoculation percentage, the Nashik district administration on Thursday decided to implement the ‘no vaccine-no entry’ rule from December 23 at public places, including offices, restaurants, shopping malls, theatres and marriage halls, an official said.

The rule mandates that anyone who seeks entry at these places should have received at least one vaccine dose, he said. -PTI

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