Coronavirus updates live | Delhi records 86 new Covid cases, highest single-day rise in over 5 months

Tamil Nadu seeks mandatory COVID-19 testing for all international travellers

India’s Omicron COVID count rose to 126 on Saturday after Karnataka and Kerala reported six and four cases respectively, while three more persons in Maharashtra also tested positive for the variant.

According to central and state officials, omicron cases have been detected in 11 states and union territories — Maharashtra (43), Delhi (22), Rajasthan (17) and Karnataka (14), Telangana (8), Gujarat (7), Kerala (11), Andhra Pradesh (1), Chandigarh (1), Tamil Nadu (1) and West Bengal (1).

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:

Delhi records 86 new Covid cases, highest single-day rise in over 5 months

The national capital on Saturday recorded 86 fresh COVID-19 cases in a day, the highest in over five months, and zero death as the positivity rate stood at 0.13%, according to data shared by the city’s health department.

On July 8, Delhi had reported 93 coronavirus cases with a positivity rate of 0.12%, and three deaths.

The rise in cases is being recorded amid the Omicron scare in Delhi as the total number of patients infected with the latest variant of coronavirus jumped by 12 on Friday to reach 22. – PTI

Government ready for Omicron variant: Kejriwal

Delhi government is ready to tackle the Omicron variant of COVID, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday.

He advised people not to panic saying even though the variant was said to spread faster than the previous ones, its symptoms were mild.

He said Delhi might not face another wave of infections, since according to the sero survey conducted by the Delhi government, 96% of the State population was found to have antibodies and a majority of them were vaccinated. – PTI

UK Brexit minister quits as new COVID rules spark anger

A senior member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Cabinet resigned Saturday night, adding to a sense of disarray within a government that has faced rebellion from his own lawmakers and voters this week.

Brexit Minister David Frost said in a letter to Johnson that he was stepping down immediately after a newspaper reported that he had planned to leave the post next month.

Mr. Frost said the process of leaving the EU would be a long-term job. “That is why we agreed earlier this month that I would move on in January and hand over the baton to others to manage our future relationship with the EU,” he said in his resignation letter. – AP

Omicron: 8-year-old girl among eight new infections reported from Maharashtra

Eight more cases of Omicron, which included an eight-year-old girl, were reported from Maharashtra on Saturday taking the number of infections to 48, said health authorities.

All the new cases were “asymptomatic”, they said.

According to a report by the city-based National Institute of Virology (NIV), four cases were detected during surveillance at the Mumbai airport, three from Satara district and a 17-year-old girl from Pune city.

Of those detected during the screening at the Mumbai airport, only one was a resident of the city while three were residents of Jalgaon district, Chhattisgarh and Kerala respectively. They had a travel history to Africa and the U.K.

Tamil Nadu seeks mandatory COVID-19 testing for all international travellers

The Directorate of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine has requested the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to issue guidelines to bring in mandatory post-arrival testing for COVID-19 for all international passengers and a compulsory seven-day home/institutional quarantine for those testing negative, followed by a re-test on the eighth day of arrival.

In a letter to the Union Health Secretary, T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, sought guidelines for additional surveillance of all international passengers arriving in the State similar to those arriving from countries at risk.

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Four of five Omicron patients recover in Dakshina Kannada

Four of the five persons who had been tested positive for the Omicron variant of coronavirus have recovered from the infection in Dakshina Kannada. Report on the fifth person is expected in a couple of days, according to Dakshina Kannada Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra.

He said that 16 students of Navodaya Vidyalaya, Mudipu, tested positive on November 10. Later, the Government directed the Health Department to send the swab samples of old positive cases reported in November for genomic study. Hence the district administration sent the samples of same 16 students for study on December 10. In that the results confirmed on December 18 that four of the 16 had Omicron variant. Meanwhile, RT-PCR tests of all those students done a week ago returned negative. Hence the notification on containment zone was withdrawn on December 11.

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Impossible to get rid of SARS-CoV-2: Gagandeep Kang

When asked if there is an end in sight for COVID-19, the virologist said, “Polio was much harder to get rid of in India. But with a lot of effort, we got to a point where we said there is no polio in our country. Why was it possible with polio and not with SARS-CoV-2? Polio only affects humans. SARS-CoV-2 infects both humans and animals. When you have a virus which is asymptomatic, and can cross the species barrier, that makes it impossible to get rid of.”

She added that this is also an RNA virus. “Some of those mutations don’t matter, some do and give the virus abilities that it didn’t have before. When we start to think about all the variants that are being described, these are viruses that have acquired new characteristics. The evolution for SARS-CoV-2 is actually very slow. The reason we are seeing this so quickly is because it is multiplying so much. Every time it replicates, there’s chance for it to mutate. There will be many more mutations,” she said.

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