Coronavirus live updates | Omicron tally rises to 32, symptoms mild: Centre

Over 96% of the total COVID vaccine doses administered in the country since May 1 were given at Government centres, while 3.7% were at private facilities, the Lok Sabha was told on Friday

As many as 86% of India’s eligible population has received the first dose of COVID vaccine and the government wishes that 100% vaccination is achieved at the earliest, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday.

During the question hour, to a query related to Omicron, he said that studies are going on and only after the studies are complete, it will be known which vaccine is how much effective against the new variant.

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:

Omicron tally rises to 32, symptoms mild: Centre

With the detection of seven new cases of the Omicron variant of novel coronavirus in Maharahstra, the total number of cases in the country touched 32 on Friday.

Maharashtra now has 17 cases, followed by nine in Rajasthan, three in Gujarat, two in Karnataka, and one in Delhi.

In Maharashtra, three new cases, including a three-and-half-year-old child, were reported from Mumbai, and four from Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.

Addressing a press conference on COVID-19 management, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, said, “Mainly mild symptoms have been seen in the cases of Omicron variant detected so far.”

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Over 96% vaccine doses administered in Government hospitals

Over 96% (108.55 crore) of the total COVID vaccine doses administered in the country since May 1 were given at Government centres, while 3.7% (4.12 crore) were at private facilities, the Lok Sabha was told on Friday.

As on December 7, a total of 4.61 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been procured by private hospitals and 49 lakh doses are balance with them, Minister of State for Health Bharati Pravin Pawar said in a written reply to a question.

Under the ‘Revised Guidelines for Implementation of National COVID Vaccination Program’ effective from June 21, domestic vaccine manufacturers have the option to provide up to 25% of their monthly vaccine production directly to private hospitals and any leftover vaccine is also procured by Government of India, Ms. Pawar said. – PTI

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No plans for new COVID-19 restrictions in U.K. despite increase in new cases, says PM Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is not planning further restrictions in England to contain the significant growth of the Omicron coronavirus variant, his spokesman said on Friday, as Scotland warned the variant could become dominant within days.

Mr. Johnson, who sets health rules in England, introduced his”Plan B” COVID-19 measures on Wednesday, ordering people to work from home, wear masks in public places and use vaccine passes to slow the spread of Omicron.

While there are currently 1,265 genomically confirmed cases of Omicron in the United Kingdom, health minister Sajid Javid has said it is spreading in the community, and on Wednesday estimated the number of Omicron infections as closer to 10,000. – Reuters

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Mumbai resident, back from Tanzania, tests Omicron positive

A resident of Dharavi in Mumbai, who recently returned from Tanzania, tested positive for Omicron on Friday, taking the cases of the new coronavirus variant in Maharashtra to 11, according to officials.

The 49-year-old Muslim cleric, who is not vaccinated, was asymptomatic and was isolated before he could mingle in the community, said a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) official adding that he was shifted to BMC-run Seven Hills hospital.

He returned to Mumbai from Tanzania on December 4 and his samples were sent for genome sequencing when he tested positive for coronavirus. With this, the number of Omicron-infected patients in Mumbai rose to three. One case had been found in Thane. – PTI

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Pandemic pushed back efforts in ending child labour in Karnataka: study

A study on the impact of COVID-19 on children across Karnataka revealed there has been an uptick in child marriages. During the same period, there was also a rise in children either engaged in agricultural labour or helping their parents at work. These were some of the key findings of a study conducted by the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory (KCRO), which collated responses of focus group discussions across 20 districts — two villages in each district. It also found that supply of supplementary nutrition food, midday meals, and immunisation programmes were largely successful.

The authors noted that while focus groups with adults were not forthcoming on incidents of child marriages, groups of adolescents did report an uptick in these incidents. Of the total respondents, 43% reported an increase in such incidents. In fact, the Government of Karnataka had itself acknowledged, in February 2021, a rise in instances of child marriages during the pandemic.

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Singapore approves COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11

Singapore will start COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 years before the end of this year, its health ministry said late on Friday.

The Southeast Asian city-state has already vaccinated 87% of its 5.5 million population, and authorities were rushing to get children vaccinated amid concerns over rising number of paediatric COVID-19 cases.

The dosage used for children will be one-third of that used in adults, similar to the United States. – Reuters

Booster dose effective against Omicron, U.K. study finds

A third booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine provides 70-75% protection against symptomatic infection from the Omicron variant, the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Friday.

In its latest technical briefing, the agency said that two doses of both the Oxford/AstraZeneca, administered in India as Covishield, and Pfizer/BioNtech vaccines provide "much lower levels" of protection against symptomatic infection compared to the currently dominant Delta variant of COVID-19.

However, a third top-up dose does seem to boost immunity against the new variant, based on an analysis of data from 581 Omicron cases. – PTI

Pentagon considering COVID-19 booster mandate for troops

The Pentagon said Friday that there are “active discussions” within the department about making the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots mandatory for service members, even as thousands refuse or seek exemptions from the initial shot requirement.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there have been no final decisions on the matter, but added that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin “absolutely encourages people, if they can and if they qualify, to get the booster. But right now there is no requirement for it.” – AP

‘No shorter isolation for Omicron-hit health workers’: South African Health Minister

South Africa will not reduce the 10-day isolation period for Omicron-infected health workers to make available medical staffers to attend to the increasing number of hospitalised patients, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said.

“This is a matter that has been concerning us. We are comfortable now that the numbers have not been rising as steeply as we had feared in the beginning [of the current fourth wave],” Mr. Phaahla told reporters on Friday.

“Most of [the health workers] are vaccinated and even if they have symptoms, they last for a very few days but they isolate for 10 days,” he said, adding “We can’t really say they should reduce the isolation period”. – PTI

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