Coronavirus LIVE updates: Maharashtra's Covid-19 tally hits 2-million mark

A health worker shows a Covidshield vaccine vial
Coronavirus live updates: India recorded 15,277 fresh cases of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The total number of active cases in the country has fallen to 193,650, while the caseload tally stands at 10,611,719. Globally, 97.2 million people have been infected by the virus. The country continues to be second-most-affected globally, and ranks 13th among worst-hit nations by active cases.

The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra (1,994,977), Karnataka (933,077), Andhra Pradesh (886,245), Kerala (857,380), and Tamil Nadu (831,866).

India has given the first dose of covid antidote to almost 800,000 beneficiaries five days into the nation-wide vaccination drive and also tweaked the Co-WIN software to allow on the spot allotment of those already registered in an ongoing session in order to allow maximum possible number of people to get the jab. So far, four deaths have been reported post vaccination, but no link to the vaccine has been established

World coronavirus update: Coronavirus cases rise unabated across the globe, with 97.2 million infected by the deadly contagion. While 69,827,995 have recovered, 2,081,264 have died so far. The US remains the worst-hit country with 24,988,890, followed by India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom. However, it terms of the total number of active cases, US tops the charts, followed by France, UK, Brazil and Belgium.

Stay tuned for the latest coronavirus-related news.


Covid-19 vaccination: 27,682 inoculated on Thursday

Nearly 28,000 healthcare workers were administered COVID-19 vaccines in Telangana on Thursday as against the targeted 48,447. The total number of those inoculated on the sixth day of the vaccination drive was 27,682, covering 57 percent of the beneficiaries, a health department release said. The cumulative number of those vaccinated as on Thursday was 97,307.

The cumulative percentage of beneficiaries who received the vaccine till Thursday was 68 per cent. No serious or severe case of AEFI (adverse events following immunization) was reported on Thursday, the release said. However, six cases of minor AEFI were reported on and all are stable. All 33 districts in the state have conducted COVID-19 vaccination on Thursday for healthcare workers in the government sector (both Central and state), it said.

VK Sasikala tests Covid positive, admitted to hospital

Sasikala, an aide of former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa, has tested positive for COVID-19: Victoria Hospital, Bengaluru.

Vaccination for BSF jawans begins in Agartala

Serum Institute to offer Rs 25 lakh compensation to families of dead

Cyrus S Poonawalla, chairman and MD of Serum Institute of India, on Thursday said the vaccine major will offer a compensation of Rs 25 lakh in addition to the mandated amount to families of persons who died in a fire at the company's premises in Pune. Five men died after a fire broke out in a five-storeyed under-construction building at the firm's Manjari premises in Pune on Thursday.

All were construction workers whose bodies were recovered by fire brigade personnel from the fifth floor, police said, adding nine others were evacuated from the spot. "Today is an extremely sorrowful day for all of us at Serum Institute of India. Regrettably, there were losses of lives in the fire that broke out in our under installation facility situated at the Special Economic Zone at Manjari," Poonawalla said in a statement. "We are deeply saddened and offer our condolences to the families of the departed. In this regard, we will be offering a compensation of Rs 25 lakh to each of the families, in addition to the mandated amount as per the norms," he added.

6,229 coronavirus cases, 21 more deaths in Kerala

Kerala recorded 6,229 new cases of coronavirus and 21 related deaths on Thursday taking the total number of those affected by the virus in the state to 8.69 lakh, while the toll surged to 3,545. One more person who returned from the UK tested positive for COVID-19, taking the number of those coming from Britain and being infected to 66, state health minister K K Shailaja said.
"41 out of those have been cured so far," the minister added.
Among the districts, Ernakulam reported the highest number of patients on Thursday with 771, followed by Malappuram 657 cases and Kottayam 647 cases. Kasaragod reported the lowest with 87 cases.

Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy 39 per cent in Delhi-NCR: Survey

COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is as high as 39 per cent in the Delhi-NCR with about one-fifth of the respondents saying that they will not take the jab, according to a telephonic survey conducted by the NCAER. The government launched the world's biggest vaccination drive on January 16 to protect people from COVID-19.
The findings of the fourth round of the Delhi-NCR Coronavirus Telephone Survey (DCVTS-4) conducted by the economic think-tank NCAER showed that about 20 per cent respondents were certain about not taking the vaccine. Of this, 22.4 per cent were from rural areas and 17.5 per cent from urban locations.
The survey further showed that an additional 4 per cent of respondents said they would not take the jab as they are already infected, while about 15 per cent said they were unsure about taking the vaccine.

145 people infected with UK variant of Covid-19 in India: Govt

The number of people who have tested positive for the UK variant of COVID-19 in India has climbed to 145, the Union Health Ministry said on Thursday. All these persons have been kept in single room isolation in designated health care facilities by respective state governments, the ministry had said earlier.
Their close contacts have also been put under quarantine. Comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others.
Genome sequencing on other specimens is going on, the ministry said. The situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to the states for enhanced surveillance, containment, testing and dispatch of samples to INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium) labs.

SII building caught fire due to some ongoing welding work: Maharashtra Health Minister

Coronavirus LIVE updates: Maharashtra's Covid-19 tally hits 2-million mark

Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally crossed the 20-lakh mark on Thursday with the addition of 2,886 fresh cases. With the new cases, Maharashtra's COVID-19 tally rose to 20,00,878. The grim milestone was reached more than 10 months after the first coronavirus case was reported in the state in second week of March 2020. Maharashtra has also become the first state in the country to reach the 20-lakh COVID-19 caseload mark.
The state reported 52 more deaths due to the infection, taking the fatality count to 50,634. Also, 3,980 patients were discharged from hospitals during the day, pushing the tally of recovered people to 19,03,408. The state now has 45,622 active cases of COVID-19.

Elected representatives above 50 yrs likely to be vaccinated in next round

Elected representatives above 50 years of age are likely to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the second round of the ongoing inoculation drive after over three crore healthcare and frontline workers are vaccinated in the first round.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, most of his Cabinet ministers, including Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah and Nitin Gadkari, a majority of chief ministers and top-rung leaders of all political parties besides MPs and MLAs fall in this category.
A government source, however, insisted that there is no specific timeline for the vaccination of top politicians. READ ON...

Free entry in lord Jagannath temple with negative coronavirus report

After opening doors of lord Jagannath temple for the devotees without COVID-19 negative report, Sree Jagannatha Temple Administration (SJTA) Thursday urged Odisha government to provide coronavirus vaccines to servitors and their family members on a priority basis.
SJTA Chief Administrator Krishan Kumar in a letter to Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare Department, P K Mohapatra emphasised on the necessity of undertaking early vaccination of servitors of the 12th century shrine.
"Devotees are allowed to enter the shrine from January 21, 2021 without insisting upon any COVID-19 negative certificate. It is expected that large numbers of devotees will be visiting daily.
"Therefore, chance of the Sevayats getting infected on account of the virus cannot be ruled out as they will be coming in the close contact with the devotees," Kumar said in the letter.

Five dead in Serum Institute fire; Covishield facility unaffected

Five persons died and nine were evacuated from a building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises here after a fire broke out at the facility on Thursday, police said. Covishield vaccine production won't be hit due to the fire, Serum Institute of India CEO Adar Poonawalla said.
The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and is one km from the Covishield manufacturing unit, sources said.
"I would like to reassure all governments & the public that there would be no loss of #COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies at @SerumInstIndia," Poonawalla tweeted.
"We have just received some distressing updates; upon further investigation we have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed," Poonawalla added.

Five died during fire incident at SII premises in Pune

PM Modi to interact with beneficiaries, vaccinators of Covid-19 inoculation drive in Varanasi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with beneficiaries and vaccinators of the COVID-19 inoculation drive in Varanasi on Friday via video conferencing. The participants in the interaction will share their first hand experience of vaccination, the Prime Minister's Office said on Thursday.
The interaction follows Modi's continuous dialogue and discussion with scientists, political leaders, officials and other stakeholders to proactively ensure smooth conduct of the world's largest vaccination drive, it added.
Varanasi is Modi's Lok Sabha constituency. He had launched the nationwide inoculation drive on January 16 with over three crore healthcare and frontline workers prioritised to get the jabs initially.

No loss of Covidshield production after fire incident at SII premises in Pune: Adar Poonawalla

South Africa to pay $5.25 a dose for AstraZeneca vaccine from India's SII

South Africa will pay $5.25 per dose for 1.5 million shots of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), a senior health ministry official said on Thursday, more than some wealthier countries are paying, Reuters reported.
The price is higher than the $3 a dose that South Africa and other countries on the continent are due to pay for the same vaccines under an African Union (AU) arrangement, and the price European Union countries have agreed to pay.
The SII doses are intended for South Africa's frontline healthcare workers, who have been under huge strain during a second wave of coronavirus infections. They are due to start arriving before the end of the month, before the AU doses become available from March. 

Uttar Pradesh reports six more Covid-19 deaths, 195 new cases

Uttar Pradesh recorded six COVID-19-linked fatalities on Thursday, taking the death toll due to the disease to 8,597 in the state, while 195 fresh cases pushed its infection tally to 5,97,823. The number of active coronavirus cases in the state stands at 7,717.
"In the last 24 hours, six deaths and 195 fresh cases were reported in the state and 345 people were discharged," Principal Secretary, Health Alok Kumar told reporters. "There are 7,717 active cases in the state and the total number of recoveries has risen to 5,81,509. Of the active cases, 2,577 are in home isolation, while the death toll has climbed to 8,597," he said.
So far, over 2.66 crore samples have been tested for COVID-19 in Uttar Pradesh, including more than 1.39 lakh on Wednesday, the officials said.

One NDRF team moved for Serum Institute in Pune where a fire broke out

Fire in Serum Institute; Covishield facility not affected

Three persons were evacuated from a building in the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises here after a fire broke out there on Thursday, police said. There is no impact on the Covishield vaccine making process as the fire broke out in a facility away from the place where the anti-coronavirus vaccines are made, sources said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Namrata Patil told PTI the fire broke out at 2.45 pm on the fourth and fifth floor of the SEZ 3 building in the Serum Institute premises.
"As per the primary information, three people have been evacuated," she said. Viral visuals from the site showed smoke billowing out from the Serum Institute facility.
"We have sent water tenders to the spot," a fire brigade official said, adding the cause of the fire is yet to be ascertained. The Manjari facility is where the Covishield vaccine used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the pandemic is made. The building where the fire broke out is part of the under-construction site of the Serum facility and Covishield production has not been affected by the fire, sources said.

Coronavirus LIVE: Fire breaks out at Serum Institute building in Pune

A fire broke out at the Serum Institute of India's Manjari premises here on Thursday afternoon, a fire brigade official said.
"The fire broke in a building in the premises. We have sent water tenders to the spot," the official said.
The Manjari facility is where Covishield vaccine, used in the nationwide inoculation drive against the coronavirus pandemic, is made.

Sri Lanka's Covid-19 caseload tops 50,000

Sri Lanka's overall coronavirus caseload surpassed the 55,000 mark on Thursday after over 700 people tested positive for the disease, the Health Ministry announced. According to official figures, out of the 55,189 patients reported to date, 47,215 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals, with the number of active cases standing at 7,700, Xinhua news agency reported.
The island nation has so far registered 274 deaths from the virus.
Sri Lanka is presently in the midst of the second wave of the pandemic after two new clusters were detected in October 2020 -- one at a from a garment factory in Minuwangoda and the second at a fish market in Colombo. Since then, several areas in Colombo have been placed under isolation to prevent a further spread of the pandemic. Wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing have been made mandatory by the Health Ministry.

V K Sasikala admitted to hospital for suspected Covid-19 infection

Late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalithaa's close aide V K Sasikala has been admitted to Bengaluru's Bowring Government Hospital after she complained about breathlessness, fever and back pain. According to the health bulletin released by the Karnataka Health Department, the 63-year-old was admitted on Wednesday with comorbidities of hypertension diabetes and hypothyroidism and cough and fever.
"On arrival to hospital, oxygen saturation at room air 79 per cent and febrile (feverish). Stable with supportive measures and antibiotics and oxygen. She will be further evaluated and monitored. Investigation reports are awaited," the bulletin added.
According to the hospital sources, as soon as she was admitted to hospital, authorities conducted a Rapid Antigen Test on her, which has come back negative for Covid-19. But to be doubly sure, the hospital authorities have taken a swab sample which is now being tested using the more reliable RT-PCR test to confirm if she is affected by Covid disease.

Two million Covid-19 vaccine doses from India reach Dhaka airport

Two million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India arrived in Dhaka on Thursday as a gift from New Delhi. The Air India charter flight 1232 from Mumbai carrying the consignment landed at Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka at 11.20 a.m. on Thursday. In a tweet, Indian Minister of External Affars S Jaishankar said: "Touchdown in Dhaka.
#VaccineMaitri reaffirms the highest priority accorded by India to relations with Bangladesh."

The vaccines which came as a gift will be handed over at a formal ceremony at State Guesthouse Padma on Thursday afternoon. Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Health Minister Zahid Maleque, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Vikram Kumar Doraiswami and other high government officials will be in attendance. READ ON...


China registers 144 new Covid-19 cases, 113 asymptomatic infections

Chinese health officials on Thursday registered 144 new COVID-19 cases in addition to 113 cases of asymptomatic infections detected over the past 24 hours. This is up from 103 new symptomatic and 58 asymptomatic cases registered the previous day. No deaths were attributed to the disease, ANI reported.
The northern Heilongjiang province registered the highest number of cases showing symptoms at 68, while the neighbouring Jilin and Hebei provinces posted 33 and 20 cases respectively, according to a daily update from China's National Health Commission.
The commission's data showed that 18 symptomatic and 16 asymptomatic cases were imported from abroad. This takes the total in the country since the beginning of the pandemic to 88,701 cases and 4,635 fatalities. China has been battling an uptick in transmissions since the beginning of the year with lockdowns affecting over 20 million people in large cities of the country's northeast.

Inactive cancer patients also at high risk of severe Covid illness: Study

Patients with inactive cancer and not currently undergoing treatments also face a significantly higher risk of severe illness from Covid-19, a new study suggests.
The findings underscore the importance of Covid-19 mitigation, like social distancing and mask wearing, and vaccinations for all patients, not just those recently diagnosed or with active disease.
"Patients who have cancer need to be careful not to become exposed during this time," said researcher Kara N. Maxwell, Assistant Professor at University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Arthritis drug no better than standard care for severe COVID-19, says study

Treating severe COVID-19 patients with the arthritis drug tocilizumab along with standard care is no better than standard care alone in improving clinical outcomes at 15 days, says the results of a trial which was stopped early due to increased number of deaths among those receiving the drug.
The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal The BMJ, noted that there was an increased number of deaths at 15 days in severe COVID-19 patients receiving tocilizumab -- contradicting earlier observational studies suggesting a benefit of the drug.
However, the scientists, including those from Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo in Brazil, said these contradictory effects need to be assessed in future studies.

Japan to receive Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for 72 million people within 2021

The Japanese government has signed agreements with US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc. to receive the drugmaker's Covid-19 vaccine doses enough for a total of 72 million people within this year, the Health Ministry said.
The additional supply added to the country's agreement last year with the drugmaker to acquire doses for 60 million people, which accounted for roughly half the country's population of 126 million, reports Xinhua news agency. Read on...

Britain hits another record daily virus deaths

For the second day running, Britain had another record increase in coronavirus-related deaths.
The government says another 1,820 people died in the 28 days after testing positive for the coronavirus. That takes the confirmed total to 93,290, which is Europe's highest virus-related death toll and fifth highest in the world.
The lockdown restrictions across the UK have helped reduce the number of people contracting the virus, although the UK is still recording high levels of infections when compared with other nations in Europe, such as France or Germany.

France's daily Covid-19 cases hit two-month high

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in France hit a two-month high at 26,784, health authorities said on Wednesday.
A higher daily tally, at 28,393, was registered on November 18, 2020, according to official data, Xinhua news agency reported.
Meanwhile, the country's coronavirus death toll increased by 310 within a day.
Currently, a total of 25,686 people are hospitalized, 2,852 of them in intensive care.

Coronavirus vaccination drive: PM Modi, chief ministers to get Covid vaccine in Phase 2

Coronavirus vaccination drive: PM Modi, chief ministers to get Covid vaccine in Phase 2

Bharat Biotech seeks emergency use approval for vaccine in Philippines

Bharat Biotech seeks emergency use approval for vaccine in Philippines

SII's Covishield vaccine to be dispatched to Kathmandu, Dhaka today

The Serum Institute of India's consignment of COVID-19 vaccines, containing 10 lakh dosages to be dispatched to Kathmandu and 20 lakh dosages to Dhaka, arrived at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in the wee hours of Thursday.
The flight for Kathmandu is scheduled to take off at 6:40 am while the flight for Dhaka is scheduled for 8 am.
With a population of nearly 30 million, the Government of Nepal plans to inoculate 72 percent of its citizens. Nepal has announced that legal and financial preparations for rolling out of vaccine have been completed and everything is on set with vaccination drive soon to start in the Himalayan Nation. Read on...

Amazon offers to help US with vaccine in letter to President Biden Inc on Wednesday offered to help with the United States' efforts involving the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, seen by Reuters.
The world's largest online retailer has an agreement with a healthcare provider to administer vaccines at its facilities, Dave Clark, chief executive of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, said in the letter. He added, "We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration's vaccination efforts."

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