As fear of Covid variant BF.7 grips India, the airports in the country have started random testing of international passengers from today (24 December). According to an order by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, airlines are required to direct their crew members to lead and bring identified 2% of international passengers to the testing facility at the airport.
Besides, India has mandated a Covid-19 negative test report for travellers arriving from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand, the health minister said on Saturday.
The Covid situation in China has become a source of concern for the world after Beijing abruptly ended its zero-Covid policy. Research groups have predicted that the death toll could rise to millions amid fears that new mutants could emerge as a new wave of infections quickly spreads throughout the vast country.
Catch all the latest updates here
Random testing of int'l passengers begins at Indian airports
Ramping up anti-Covid measures, the government on Saturday said RT-PCR test would be made mandatory for passengers from China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand and asked states to ensure adequate availability of medical oxygen and life support equipment such as ventilators in hospitals.
From Saturday, random coronavirus testing of international passengers started at airports including those in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Pune, Indore and Goa under new guidelines that require testing of two per cent of the passengers arriving in each international flight.
Maha records 38 new COVID-19 case, zero fatality; active tally at 136
At least 38 new cases of coronavirus were detected in Maharashtra on Saturday, raising the tally of infections in the state to 81,36,479, an official from the state health department said. The toll remained unchanged at 1,48,414, while the count of recoveries reached 79,87,928 after 35 patients recovered from the infection in the last 24 hours, the official said. With 9,880 swab samples tested in the last 24 hours, the total number of tests conducted across the state so far rose to 8,58,42,380.
25 crore maybe infected in China in 20 days
Almost 250 million people in China may have been affected by Covid-19 in just 20 days after the 'zero-covid policy' was diluted in the first week of the month, according to radio Free Asia citing leaked government documents circulating on social media.
Ensure availability of oxygen at hospitals: Centre tells states
As the new variant of Covid-19 grapples the world, the Indian government on Saturday asked states to ensure adequate oxygen cylinders and functional life support equipment such as ventilators are available at hospitals.
RT-PCR test mandatory for arrivals from China: Centre
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya announced that the RT-PCR test has been made mandatory for passengers coming from five countries including China.
Mandaviya said people coming from China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand will have to undergo RT-PCR test.
Jharkhand CM to hold a meeting on Covid-19 on 26 Dec
Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is likely to hold a high-level meeting on 26 December (Monday) to review the state government's preparations for Covid-19 situation, an official said on Saturday.
Jharkhand Health minister Banna Gupta informed the Union Health minister Mansukh Mandaviya about the state’s preparations to deal with the new variants of the disease.
Gupta sought information about the symptoms of the Omicron sub variant BF.7 and also requested the Centre to provide guidelines related to its symptoms and treatment. He also requested to release ₹110 crore pending with the Centre under the disaster fund.
Covid in India: No need to ban international flights, say experts
India's present Covid scenario does not warrant restricting international flights or imposing a lockdown, but there is a need for strengthened surveillance and vigilance because of the rise in cases in some countries, experts have said.
Besides, a fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as people in India have the advantage of 'hybrid immunity' i.e. natural immunity due to infection reinforced by vaccination.
Former AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria stated that past experiences show that banning flights is not effective in halting the transmission of infection, he said. "Moreover, data suggests that the Omicron sub-variant BF.7, which is driving the surge in China, has already been found in our country."
Asked whether a lockdown could be needed in the coming days, Dr Guleria said, "A fresh outbreak of severe Covid cases and hospitalisation is unlikely as the Indian population already has hybrid immunity because of a very good vaccination coverage and natural infection."
Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, said India needs to exercise caution given the surge of Covid-19 cases in China and some other countries but a "lockdown-like situation is not envisaged in near future given the current India scenario".
Blood shortage in China as Covid infections surge
The rise in Covid cases in China is causing blood shortages at hospitals across multiple provinces and cities. The Blood Center of Shandong Province, the second most populous in China, issued red alert warnings for insufficient inventory for two blood types in recent days. Red alert is the highest level of warning, which means the blood in store can only meet the dosage of acute and critically ill patients for three days.
China reports zero Covid deaths
China reported zero new Covid-19 deaths for 23 December, the same number as the previous day, the National Health Commission said on Saturday.
The country reported 4,128 new symptomatic Covid-19 infections yesterday, compared with 3,761 a day earlier.
Excluding imported infections, China reported 4,103 new local cases, up from 3,696 a day earlier.
2% international air passengers to be tested at Mumbai airport today
Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said that 2% of international passengers arriving at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport from Saturday onwards would undergo post-arrival testing for Covid.
Passengers are required to submit the samples and continue with their onward journey. The lab shall make provisions to send the digital copy of the test results to the passengers directly. The RT-PCR testing facility for international arriving passengers at CSMIA is located in the international arrival concourse, in the pre-immigration area, after the health screening counters. The testing facility will be available around the clock, free of cost for passengers who have been randomly selected by the airlines.
Covid BF.7 strain in India: CM Yogi Adityanath says, 'Be alert and careful'
Highlighting the recent surge in Covid cases across several countries, including neighbouring China, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said, "Although, the situation is completely normal in the state now, we have to be cautious. We have to be alert. This is not the time to panic but to be alert and careful. Make people aware of the need to wear face masks in crowded public places like hospitals, buses, railway stations and markets. Activate all public address systems".
Madhya Pradesh CM chairs Covid review meet says no need to panic
Madhya Pradesh government is on high alert regarding the new Omicron sub-variant BF.7. "Covid-19 is again knocking on our doors. Although our state is safe for the time being, a new Covid strain has been detected in the country.There is no need to panic but one needs to be very careful. We have decided to start administering booster doses to those who have not taken it yet. We have launched an initiative to administer sufficient doses," Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said.
Pune gears up to tackle COVID as cases surge globally
The civic authorities have started thermal screening of 2 per cent of passengers arriving at the Pune International Airport, an official said on Friday.
Meanwhile, at least 600 beds have been readied at civic hospitals in case any patient needs to be kept in isolation, said Dr Ashish Bharti, health officer of the Pune Municipal Corporation said. "Apart from Naidu Hospital, preparations have been made at two more hospitals. There are three to four dedicated COVID-19 hospitals that can be readied in two to three days," he told PTI
Random checking at Ahmedabad and Surat airports
Gujarat government has decided to conduct random tests on 2 per cent of all passengers arriving at international airports in Ahmedabad and Surat and launch a special drive to expand the coverage of booster doses, a minister said on Friday.
State health minister Rushikesh Patel said issues, including precautionary measures, were discussed at a virtual meeting of health ministers chaired by Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to review the COVID-19 situation and preparedness.
'Follow Covid appropriate behavior, take booster dose' K'taka health min
Amid the fresh global surge in the Covid cases by a new coronavirus variant, B.F7, Karnataka Health Minister K Sudhakar on Friday appealed to people to take booster doses and take precautionary measures.
Goa govt advises COVID appropriate behaviour
As Goa gears up to ring in the Christmas and New Year festivities amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in some countries, the state government on Friday appealed to the people not to panic, but to take necessary precautions.
Random screening of international passengers begins in TN
The Tamil Nadu govt is fully prepared to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in the wake of sudden surge of infections globally, and random screening of international passengers arriving to the state has commenced, State Health Minister Ma Subramanian said on Friday.
'State well-prepared to tackle Covid'
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Saha has said tha the state is prepared for COVID-19 but must follow the old advisory. "Oxygen, PPE kits and ventilators are available in the hospital. People know what is to be done. Instructions have also been given to the health department for the same," he told ANI.
Govt to make Covid negative test must for…
India is planning to make a COVID-19 negative test report mandatory for passengers arriving from countries with high number of positive cases, the country's health minister said during an interview today. Full report
TN increases vigilance at public places
Tamil Nadu Health Minister today said that the health department has increased vigilance at public places. He also said that necessary arrangements will be made at international airports like Coimbatore, Chennai, Trichy, Madurai for the random RTPCR testing of passengers from tomorrow as per the order of Central Govt.
China says domestic production of medical supplies is sufficient
China's domestic production of medical supplies is expanding and is generally sufficient, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry said on Friday.
The epidemic prevention and control situation in China is generally predictable and controllable, said Mao Ning at a regular press briefing, remarking on a question on U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying China has not asked it for vaccines.
"Currently, China's vaccination rate is rising, as is the ability of the vaccine to treat people," said Mao.
Covid positivity rate in India declining week-on-week: Health ministry
Amid the fresh global surge in the Covid cases by a new coronavirus variant, B.F7, the Centre government on Friday assured the general public by saying that the Covid positivity rate in the country is declining week-on-week.
According to a release, issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Friday, the positivity rate is declining week-by-week with only 0.14 per cent positivity in the week ending on December 22.
"Consistent decline in cases in India is recorded with five states accounting for 78 percent of the daily new cases reported on December 22," the Health Ministry said, adding that 8 states and 4 UTs currently have zero reported active cases.
The average daily cases on October 7 to 13 were 2,408--1.05 per cent, which later reduced to 153-- 0.14 per cent on December 16 to 22, the official statement read.
The average daily cases during the week ending December 21, India has contributed only 0.03 per cent of Covid cases in the cases reported globally. India's global contribution of only 153 cases is highly lesser, as compared to 1,54,521-- 26.8 per cent of Japan, Health Ministry's data show.
MoCA issues guidelines for random testing of international arriving passengers
With random coronavirus testing of international arriving passengers set to start from Saturday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has said that airlines' crew members will have to bring such identified passengers to the testing facility at the airport.
Against the backdrop of rising coronavirus cases in China and some other parts of the world, the government has decided to subject 2 per cent of the passengers arriving on international flights to random coronavirus test starting from Saturday morning.
In a communication on Friday, the ministry said that airlines are required to direct their crew members to lead and bring identified 2 per cent of international arriving passengers to the testing facility at the airport.
"The airport operators would create necessary infrastructure to facilitate random testing of international arriving passengers at their respective airports," the communication said.
Beijing expects Covid peak within a week
China can witness a peak in COVID-19 cases within a week as the mainland reported less than 4000 new symptomatic local cases nationwide on Thursday and still downplayed the disease's severity and continue to report no new deaths, Bernard Orr and Casey Hall write in Australian Associated Press, News agency reported.
Amid the increase in Covid cases this month, China began dismantling its zero-Covid policy in the country.
Central paramilitary force personnel arriving in Tripura with COVID-19 symptoms to undergo test: Official
Central paramilitary force personnel who will arrive in Tripura for election duty will have to undergo COVID-19 test if they have any symptoms, a senior Health department official said on Friday.
Around 300 companies of central forces are likely to be deployed in election related duties in the state. Assembly elections in Tripura are due in February next year.
"We have received an advisory from the Centre in view of the sudden spurt of COVID-19 cases in some foreign countries. The state is following the guideline issued by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Affairs", Tripura, Health Secretary, Debasish Bose told PTI on Friday.
He said a guideline has been issued by the department asking the administration to conduct COVID-19 test for the security personnel coming from outside the state for election duties.
"Jawans with COVID-19 symptoms will only undergo Coronavirus test. The test can be done at railway stations, DM and SDM offices," he said.
Indian Army releases advisory on rise of COVID19 cases across the world
A close watch is being kept on the evolving epidemiological situation in the country and Indian Army: Indian Army advisory on the rise of #COVID19 cases across the world including China, USA, JapanAdvisory has asked personnel to take protective measures like use of face masks, especially in closed and overcrowded spaces, practising social distancing. Regular hand hygiene including hand washing and use of hand sanitiser, it said.
Advisory suggests that all symptomatic individuals will be tested for COVID-19 and those testing positive will be isolated for 7 days. Those having moderate to severe disease will be admitted to the hospital: Indian Army
Anand Mahindra on Covid surge in China, says Clearly vaccines did not provide necessary immunity
China is experiencing a sudden surge in coronavirus cases just a couple of weeks after after the Xi-Jinping government eased the stringent Zero Covid Policy. Anand Mahindra has said that clearly their vaccines have not provided the necessary immunity.
In a tweet he wrote, "Can we demonstrate how to be good neighbours and offer to supply vaccines from Serum Institute & Bharat Biotech? We currently have sufficient capacity to supply.
Punjab CM to hold a meeting with officials to discuss COVID situation
Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann to hold a meeting with health department officials this afternoon to discuss the COVID situation, news agency ANI has reported.
Govt to issue new Covid advisory ahead of New Year, upcoming festivals
Union Health Ministry to issue a new advisory for COVID-19 in view of New Year and upcoming festivals, Sources told news agency ANI.
Govt approves Bharat Biotech's intranasal Covid vaccine
Bharat Biotech's intranasal Covid vaccine has been approved by the Union Health Ministry, official sources have told news agency PTI.
As per sources, the needle-free vaccine will be available at private centres and will be added on the Co-WIN platform on Friday evening.
It will be inclusion in the Covid vaccination programme as a booster dose for those above 18 years of age, official sources said.
In November, the nasal vaccine - BBV154 had received approval of the Drugs Controller General of India for restricted use in an emergency situation for those above 18 as a heterologous booster dose.
Jyotiraditya Scindia's statement amid fresh Covid surge
Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Friday highlighted the ongoing vaccination drive, launched by the Centre government, against Covid-19 amid the fear of a covid surge in the Country.
Addressing a press briefing on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government's efforts towards a 'Healthy India' on Friday, the Union Minister said that 220 crore doses of vaccine have been administered till this Monday.
"The focus of our government is to transform health care into holistic health care. Following the PM's vision of 'One Nation One Health', we collectively handled Covid. 220 crore doses of vaccine have been administered till this Monday," Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said.
Mock drills in hospitals across the country from Tuesday as government steps up Covid preparedness
Sources told news agency ANI that, “A mock drill for emergency response to deal with COVID 19 cases will be conducted in hospitals across the country on Tuesday, 27th December. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will also visit a government hospital for the mock drill."
India logs 163 fresh cases and 9 deaths
India logged 163 new coronavirus infections, while the active cases declined to 3,380, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll stands at 5,30,690 with nine fatalities. The Covid case tally was recorded at 4.46 crore (4,46,76,678).
While six deaths were reconciled by Kerala, two deaths were reported from Maharashtra and one from Delhi in the last 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am stated.
The active cases comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent, the ministry said.
Covid Alert: Statewise list of precautions undertaken to intensify preparations
Covid-19 situation in China has become a source of concern for the world, with researchers predicting a rise in death toll to millions amid fears that new mutants could emerge as a new wave of infections quickly spreads throughout the vast country. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya will also hold a meeting with the health ministers of states and Union Territories today over increasing Covid cases in some parts of the world. Here's a state-wise list of measures being taken to step up preparations.
Goa govt to hold meeting to discuss COVID-19 preparedness
The Goa government will hold a meeting of various departments on Friday over rising COVID-19 cases in some parts of the world. Talking to reporters on Thursday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said precautionary measures that need to be taken in view of the spike in coronavirus cases in countries like China will be discussed at the meeting.
"The meeting will take stock of the situation in Goa," he said. Due to the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations, the coastal state has been witnessing a rise in tourist footfall. State Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Thursday evening took to twitter to request citizens to adopt COVID- appropriate behaviour.
"In wake of a spike in COVID-19 cases in several countries, we request people to follow appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks and getting vaccinated against the virus if you haven't," he said.
BF.7 variant of coronavirus not worrisome for India: senior scientist Rakesh Mishra
Allaying fears about BF.7 variant of coronavirus, a prominent scientist on Friday said it is a sub-variant of Omicron strain and that India need not worry too much about its severity on the population.
Speaking to news agency PTI, Rakesh Mishra, Director, Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS), Bangalore, however cautioned that wearing face masks and avoiding unnecessary crowds is always advisable.
The former director of CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology further said China has been witnessing an unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases as the neighbouring country has not passed through different waves of the infection that India had faced.
"This is a sub-variant of Omicron. Main features will be like Omicron except some small changes, there is no big difference. Most of us have gone through the Omicron wave. So, we don't have to worry about it. Essentially, it is the same virus," he said.
BioNTech vaccines for German expatriates in China arrives at German embassy
A shipment of BioNTech vaccines for German nationals in China have arrived at the German embassy in Beijing, an embassy spokesperson told Reuters on Friday.
The vaccines, a batch of 11,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived late Thursday evening local time at the embassy and will be stored there until the vaccination drive can officially start, the spokesperson said.
The embassy hopes the first doses will be given out "as soon as possible", the spokesperson said.
COVID: No need to worry, but need to be alert, says Telangana health minster
Telangana Health minister has said that there is no need to worry about COVID-19, but there is a need to be alert.
While speaking to news agency ANI, the state health minister Harish Rao also advised citizens to take vaccine and also the booster dose.
“Everyone is advised to observe personal hygiene and those who have not taken the covid vaccine should take it immediately and take a booster dose," he said.
Meghalaya CM asks people to start wearing masks
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday appealed to the residents to start wearing masks as a precautionary measure.
There is nothing alarming as of now but we must not take things for granted. During this festive season, the only advice is to wear masks wherever possible, he said.
Covid-19: No curbs on Christmas celebrations, Gangasagar mela, says Bengal CM
West Bengal will not impose any new Covid curbs, especially during the upcoming Christmas celebrations and the Gangasagar mela, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday.
The West Bengal Chief Minister said that the pandemic, which paralysed normal life for long periods of time since it hit the country in March 2020, will be tackled as required if there is any resurgence in the state
Covid: 71% Indians want all flights from China to be shut down, finds survey
As Covid cases surge in China, a recent survey showed that 71% citizens feel that India should shut down flights from China. LocalCircles conducted a pan-India survey which received over 10,000 responses from citizens residing in 301 districts of India. 62% respondents were men while 38% respondents were women. 42% of respondents were from tier 1, 30% from tier 2 and 28% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. Read more here
All you need to know about BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron
Omicron subvariant BF.7 is the one driving the alarming surge in cases in the east Asian country of China.
BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the Omicron variant BA.5 and has the strongest infection ability since it is highly transmissible, has a shorter incubation period, and has a higher capacity to cause reinfection or infect even those vaccinated.
The subvariant has already been detected in several other countries, including the US, the UK and European nations such as Belgium, Germany, France and Denmark.
Karnataka to hold meet to assess Covid-19 preparedness
Speaking on Covid-19 preparedness of Karnataka, amid fear of a possible fourth outbreak in the country, state Health Minister K Sudhakar Rao on Thursday said an emergency meeting has been called under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Basavraj Bommai to discuss the state's preparedness. According to data from the Union Health Ministry, 131 fresh Covid infections were detected across the country in the last 24 hours while the number of active cases was down to 3,408.
Prepared for COVID-19 says Tripura CM Manik Saha
Tripura CM Manik Saha has said that the state is prepared for COVID-19 but must follow the old advisory. While speaking to news agency ANI, he added, “Oxygen, PPE kits and ventilators are available in the hospital. People know what is to be done. Instructions have also been given to the health department for the same."
Maharashtra to test international passengers; masks not mandatory but advisable: Health dept
The Maharashtra health department on Thursday night said 2 per cent of the international passengers arriving at the state's airports will be tested randomly amid concern of a possible spike in COVID-19 cases due to detection of the BF.7 sub-variant of Omicron which is said to be driving the latest surge in infections in neighbouring China.
The state government has not made masks mandatory for people, but has advised their use by elderly persons and high-risk populations, including those with comorbidities (having existing illnesses), the health department said in a statement. A state task force has also been formed to guide the government for expert inputs, while district authorities have been asked to review the situation at their own level through existing committees.
District administrations and civic bodies have been asked to ramp up testing and every positive RT-PCR swab sample should be sent for genome sequencing to detect any new variant, the health department added.
Genomic sequencing is a laboratory test that can map out the whole genetic makeup of a virus from a patient's swab sample. Officials in every district have been directed to ensure that all life-saving equipment like ventilators and oxygen plants are functioning properly, said the statement.
Special arrangements being made at IGIMS Patna amid Covid surge
Amid a fresh global surge in Covid-19 cases, the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) Hospital in Patna stated on Thursday that it was focusing on making special arrangements for combating the disease. IGIMS superintendent Manish Mandal told ANI, "There is nothing to worry about, as we are better prepared this time. The doctors and staff are more aware of the treatment of Covid patients." "We can treat 500 people here like we did earlier. We have made all necessary arrangements and the people of Bihar need not fear," he added.
US prepared to help China with vaccines to control Covid
The US is prepared to help China with vaccines to help address its Covid-19 outbreak, but the government in Beijing hasn’t asked for assistance so far, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.
“We want to see China get this outbreak under control," Blinken told a press conference. He said the US is worried about the rise of new coronavirus variants and said China’s outbreak has “clear implications for the global economy because of China being shut down on multiple levels."
India needs to go back to COVID basics, says Dr Anil Goyal of Indian Medical Association
A public health expert from the Indian Medical Association (IMA), on Thursday, assured that the lockdown situation wouldn't arrive. In a conversation with ANI about the surge in cases, Dr Anil Goyal from the Indian Medical Association said, "India needs to go back to COVID basics - testing, treating, tracing".
He further assured, "There won't be a lockdown situation in the country" and added, "since 95% of the people here are vaccinated". Speaking about the immune system of people, he further stated, "The immunity system of Indians is stronger than that of the Chinese..."
Amid Covid scare, IMA advises citizens to avoid gatherings, international travel
Amid rise in Covid cases in some countries, The Indian Medical Association advised citizens to avoid public gatherings such as marriages, political or social meetings as well as international travel.
In an advisory issued by the IMA, it also appealed the citizens to take COVID-19 vaccines, including the precaution dose.
They also asked the citizens to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour such as using masks in public places and maintaining social-distancing norms to "overcome the impending Covid outbreak".
According to available reports, nearly 5.37 lakh new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours from countries such as the US, Japan, South Korea, France and Brazil, the IMA said.
All instructions of Union govt to be followed strictly: Haryana Health minister on Covid
Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij on Thursday said the Haryana Government will be abiding by all the instructions given by the Central government when it comes to tackling Covid-19.
"If any guidelines of the central govt comes on Covid, it will be fully implemented," said the Haryana Health minister.
Talking about the state's preparedness in tackling Covid, Vij said, "We have equipped ourselves better in the previous three waves of Covid. We have RT-PCR testing facilities in all districts along with a sufficient supply of oxygen in plants. People shouldn't panic and must follow all guidelines."
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