Coronavirus LIVE: Stage set for world's biggest vaccination drive today

A health worker is seen inside a Covid-19 vaccination centre in Mumbai
Coronavirus update: India is all set to kick off world's biggest vaccination drive today. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's Covid-19 vaccination drive via video conferencing at 10:30 am. DCGI had earlier this month approved Covishield, manufactured by Serum Institute and Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech for restricted emergency use. The govt aims to vaccinate 300 million by July.

Meanwhile, India has registered 15,515 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the tally to 10,528,346. Globally, more than 93.5 million people have been infected by the virus. The country continues to be second-most-affected globally, and ranks 13th among worst-wit nations by active cases, according to data from Worldometer.

The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra (1,981,623), Karnataka (929,552), Andhra Pradesh (885,437), Tamil Nadu (828,287), and Kerala (825,769).

World coronavirus update: Coronavirus cases rise unabated across the globe, with more than 93.5 million infected by the deadly contagion. While 66,797,824 have recovered, 2,001,208 have died so far. The US remains the worst-hit country with 23,847,250, 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.


Pfizer says it has second doses of Covid-19 shot on hand, expects no US supply problems

Pfizer Inc has been holding on to second doses for each of its Covid-19 vaccinations at the request of the federal government and anticipates no problems supplying them to Americans, a spokeswoman said in a statement on Friday.
Pfizer's comments run counter to a report in the Washington Post that the federal government ran down its vaccine reserve in late December and has no remaining reserves of doses on hand.
"Operation Warp Speed has asked us to start shipping second doses only recently," the spokeswoman said. "As a result, we have on hand all the second doses of the previous shipments to the US."
The US Department of Health and Human Services did not respond to requests for comment.
Pfizer has shipped more than 15 million doses to destinations around the United States, primarily from its Michigan facility, and expects to be able to produce around 2 billion doses worldwide in 2021, the spokeswoman said.
The United States has been struggling to administer the shots that have been distributed, however. Only around 12 million of the more than 31 million doses that have been shipped have been administered, according to data from the US Centers from Disease Control and Prevention.
Scattered vaccine shortages were reported on the front lines of the US battle against the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, prompting at least one large healthcare system to cancel a slew of appointments of people hoping to be inoculated.
Earlier on Friday, Pfizer announced there would be a temporary impact on shipments to European countries in late January to early February caused by changes to manufacturing processes to boost output.
Around nine of the 27 governments in the European Union complained of "insufficient" doses at a meeting this week, a participant said.

EU regulator: Hackers 'manipulated' stolen vaccine documents

The European Union's drug regulator has said that Covid-19 vaccine documents stolen from its servers in a cyberattack have been not only leaked to the web, but “manipulated" by hackers.
The European Medicines Agency said on Friday that an ongoing investigation into the cyberattack showed that hackers obtained emails and documents from November related to the evaluation of experimental coronavirus vaccines.
The agency, which regulates drugs and medicines across the 27-member EU, had troves of confidential Covid-19 data as part of its vaccine approval process.
“Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines,” the agency said.
It did not explain what information was altered — but cybersecurity experts say such practices are typical of disinformation campaigns launched by governments.
Italian cybersecurity firm Yarix said it found the 33-megabyte leak on a well-known underground forum with the title “Astonishing fraud! Evil Pfffizer! Fake vaccines!” It was apparently first posted on December 30 and later appeared on other sites, including on the dark web, the company said on its website.
Yarix said “the intention behind the leak by cybercriminals is certain: to cause significant damage to the reputation and credibility of EMA and Pfizer.” The agency said that given the devastating toll of the pandemic, there was an “urgent public health need to make vaccines available to EU citizens as soon as possible.” The EMA insisted that despite that urgency, its decisions to recommend the green-lighting of vaccines were based “on the strength of the scientific evidence on a vaccine's safety, quality and efficacy, and nothing else.” The agency, which is based in Amsterdam, came under heavy criticism from Germany and other EU member countries in December for not approving vaccines against the virus more quickly.

Biden's virus plan: 100 million shots just the start

Getting 100 million shots into Americans' arms in his first 100 days is only the beginning of his coronavirus plan, President-elect Joe Biden has declared.
Lasting impact, he said, will come from uniting the nation in a new effort grounded in science and fueled by billions in federal money for vaccination, testing and outbreak sleuths.
“You have my word: We will manage the hell out of this operation,” Biden said on Friday. But he also underscored a need for Congress to approve more money and for people to keep following basic precautions, such as wearing masks, avoiding gatherings and frequently washing their hands.
“This is not a political issue," Biden said. “This is about saving lives. I know its become a partisan issue, but what a stupid, stupid thing to happen.” Biden spoke a day after unveiling a $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to confront the virus and provide temporary support for a shaky economy. About $400 billion of the plan is focused on measures aimed at controlling the virus. Those range from mass vaccination centres to more sophisticated scientific analysis of new strains and squads of local health workers to trace the contacts of infected people.
On Friday, Biden pledged to maximise the available supply of vaccines and materials needed to administer them, using a Cold War-era law called the Defense Production Act to direct private manufacturing.
He also seconded the Trump's administration's call earlier this week for states to start vaccinating more seniors, reaching those 65 and older as well as younger people with certain health problems. Until now states have been focused on inoculating health care workers, and some are starting to vaccinate people 75 and older. Relatively few are providing shots to people between 65 and 75.

DATA STORY: Global Covid death toll tops 2 mn, of which India accounts for 7.58%

India on Friday reported a net reduction of 576 to take its count of active coronavirus cases to 213,027, the lowest since June 29 and 79.07 per cent lower than the September 18 peak of 1,017,754. India’s share of global active coronavirus cases has declined to 0.86 per cent (one in 116). The country is 13th among the most affected countries by active cases. India added 15,590 cases to take its total caseload to 10,527,683. And, with 191 new fatalities its Covid-19 death toll reached 151,918, or 1.44 per cent of total confirmed infections.
The count of recovered coronavirus cases across India now stands at 10,162,738 – or 96.52 per cent of total caseload – with 15,975 new cured cases being reported on Friday. Read more

Domestic air traffic slips to 7-year low in 2020 amid Covid-19 lockdown

Domestic air traffic slip­ped to a seven-year low in 2020 as a result of two-month lockdown. In 2013, airlines had flown 61.4 million.
In calendar year 2020, domestic airlines flew 63 million passengers, compared to 144.1 million in the previous year. Airlines flew 7.3 million passengers in December, resulting in month-on-month growth of 15 per cent. While they added flights in December, load factors declined resulting in slower growth compared to previous months. Read more

New launches pick up, but home sales yet to revive amid Covid-19 pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic disruptions and the subsequent lockdown brought the already stressed real estate sector to its knees during mid-2020.
However, by the end of year, new launches bounced back – registering 12 per cent growth in the October-December quarter.
Sales, however, continue to remain tepid as a gloomy economic outlook, faltering income levels, and legacy issues in the sector keep buyers skeptical. Read more

US President-elect Joe Biden unveils plan to speed Covid-19 vaccine rollout

US President-elect Joe Biden on Friday said he would order increased production of syringes and other supplies to ramp up vaccinations against Covid-19 and improve upon the Trump administration rollout that he has called a "dismal failure."
Under Biden's plan, federal disaster-relief workers would set up thousands of vaccination centers, where retired doctors would administer shots to teachers, grocery store workers, people over 65 years old and other groups who do not currently qualify.
According to a document released by his transition team, Biden would invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of equipment needed to distribute the vaccines, such as glass vials, needles and syringes. He would also use the law to support vaccine refrigeration and storage.
States that use their National Guard in the effort would be reimbursed by the federal government, the transition team said. Read more

Global death toll from Covid-19 tops 2 mn amid vaccine rollout

The global death toll from COIVID-19 topped 2 million Friday as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat. The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. The number of dead, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is about equal to the population of Brussels, Mecca, Minsk or Vienna.

While the count is based on figures supplied by government agencies around the world, the real toll is believed to be significantly higher, in part because of inadequate testing and the many fatalities that were inaccurately attributed to other causes, especially early in the outbreak. It took eight months to hit 1 million dead. It took less than four months after that to reach the next million.

4,000 health workers to get Covid-19 vaccine in Mumbai daily

As many as 4,000 health workers will be administered Covid-19 vaccine every day at nine vaccination centres in Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said on Friday. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will launch the vaccination drive from a centre at Bandra Kurla Complex on Saturday, the civic body stated in an official release.

The vaccination will start at Vile Parle-based Dr R N Cooper Hospital, it was stated. Vaccines will be administered at 40 booths in nine centres, including KEM Hospital (Parel), Sion Hospital (Sion), Cooper Hospital (Vile Parle), Nair Hospital (Mumbai Central), Bhabha Hospital (Bandra), V N Desai Hospital (Santacruz), Rajawadi Hospital (Ghatkopar), Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Hospital (Kandivali) and BKC Jumbo COVID-19 centre.

Initially, on an avergae, 4,000 beneficiaries will be vaccinated daily at these booths, the release stated. As many as 1.30 lakh health workers have registered for immunisation, while the civic body has received 1,39,500 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine from Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

Tamil Nadu records 621 new Covid-19 infections; 5 fatalities

The Covid-19 tally in Tamil Nadu touched 8,29,573 with 621 new cases being reported on Friday, while five more fatalities took the toll to 12,251, the health department said Recoveries eclipsed new infections with 805 people getting discharged as the total number of those cured so far rose to 8,11,023.

The number of active cases continued to decline and stood at 6,299 on Friday. As many as 55,847 samples tested in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of specimens examined so far to 1,51,24,787.

Greece to hike fines for violation of Covid-19 restrictions

Greeces prime minister says the countrys retail sector might begin to gradually reopen next week, if scientists advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic recommend it is safe to do so today. Speaking in Parliament Friday during a debate on the governments handling of the pandemic, Kyriakos Mitsotakis also said fines for violating measures imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will increase to 500 euros (USD 600), from the current 300 euros.

Lockdown restrictions were imposed nationwide in Greece in early November to tackle a surge in coronavirus infections, shutting down restaurants, bars, cafes, retail stores, schools, entertainment venues and anything not considered an essential business. Primary schools and kindergartens reopened this week, but high school lessons are being held online only. People are allowed to leave their homes only for a limited number of specific reasons, and must send a telephone text message to authorities or carry a self-declaration in order to do so.

Gujarat reports 535 new coronavirus cases, 3 deaths

Gujarat recorded 535 fresh coronavirus cases and only three deaths in the last 24 hours, a state health official said on Friday evening. The caseload thus went upto 2,54,849 while the death toll in Gujarat due to Covid-19 now stands at 4,360. As many as 738 coronavirus patients were given discharge from different hospitals.

While the government has stopped disclosing the daily test figure, as many as 1,01,01,064 persons have been tested so far. Gujarat Covid-19 figures are as follows: Positive cases 2,54,849, new cases 535, death toll 4,360, discharged 2,43,639, active cases 6,850 and people tested so far 1,01,01,064.

Covid-19 vaccination to be conducted at 7 sites in Jabalpur tomorrow

Covid-19 vaccination will be conducted at 7 sites in Jabalpur tomorrow. 24,000 healthcare workers have been identified for vaccination in the first phase. In the second phase, frontline workers will be vaccinated: Jabalpur Collector Karmveer Sharma, Madhya Pradesh

SMS Medical College principal to get first shot of Covid vaccine in Rajasthan

The principal of the government-run SMS Medical College here will get the first shot of the coronavirus vaccine in Rajasthan, where it will be administered to over six lakh people across 161 centres in the initial phase beginning Saturday. As in the rest of the country, doctors and other healthcare workers will be the first ones to be vaccinated against the disease in the state. I have no inhibition in taking the vaccine as it is scientific and like any other flu shot. I am very comfortable, said Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Medical College Principal Sudhir Bhandari.

Bhandari will be administered Covishield vaccine, a Health Department official said. Bhandari said he has no inhibition in taking the shot as their hospital has always been first in using hydroxychloroquine and Remdesivir drug or plasma therapy. Meanwhile, Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma said coronavirus vaccine has reached all 33 districts where it will be administered to over six lakh beneficiaries at 161 centres from Saturday.

Around 5.63 lakh vaccine doses, including 5.43 lakh of Covishield and 20,000 of Covaxin, have been recived by the state government. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot will be launching the drive from his residence on Saturday.


Punjab CM seeks free Covid-19 vaccine for poor

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, seeking free Covid-19 vaccination for the poor in the state. The chief minister acknowledged the receipt of 2,04,500 doses of Covishield vaccine and also thanked the prime minister for making this vaccine available on priority to healthcare workers (HCWs). In a statement here, Singh requested Modi to consider providing free vaccine to the poor with a view to lessen the disease burden and also ensuring a check on the further spread of transmission, thereby allowing more economic activity.

Referring to some reports that apart from HCWs and frontline workers (FLWs), the remaining population may not be provided free vaccine, he pointed out in his letter, "the people of the state have gone through a very difficult times due to Covid-19 wherein economic activities have nosedived and the economy has still not recovered from this shock". "It would be difficult for the poorer sections of the society to pay for the vaccination," he said.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic has been an unparalleled disaster and heavy expenditure had to be incurred in the state's Covid-19 response. His government had already requested the Centre that the accumulated balances with the state in the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) may be permitted to be used as necessary for Covid response, Singh wrote.

Rajasthan records 310 new coronavirus cases

Rajasthan on Friday reported 310 new cases of COVID-19 taking the infection tally to 3,14,682, a health department bulletin said. No coronavirus-related death was recorded in the state, it said.
The new cases included 56 in Jaipur, 42 in Jodhpur, 41 in Kota, 27 in Bhilwara, 21 in Nagaur, besides cases reported from other districts of the state.
The total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the state stands at 2,744 while 5,608 patients are under treatment. So far, 509 people have died in Jaipur, 299 in Jodhpur, 221 in Ajmer, 168 in Kota, 167 in Bikaner, 120 in Bharatpur, 112 in Udaipur, 109 in Pali and 100 in Sikar. According to the bulletin, 3,06,330 people have been discharged after treatment till now.

Health ministry takes stock of vaccine preparation, assures jabs are safe

A dedicated covid control room at the Nirman Bhawan premises of the health ministry, which has been analysing the spread of coronavirus in the country, will be monitoring the smooth roll-out of the covid vaccines through the Co-WIN digital platform.
Health minister Harsh Vardhan visited the control room on Friday to take stock of the preparations for the nationwide launch of the vaccination drive on January 16.
The Co-WIN platform is meant to enable real time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries of the vaccine. The digital platform will be used to assist programme managers across the states by tracking beneficiary coverage, dropouts, sessions held and total vaccine utilisation. READ ON...

Maharashtra reports 3,145 new Covid-19 cases, 3,500 recoveries and 45 deaths today

Nepal approves AstraZeneca's India-made Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

Nepal has granted emergency approval for AstraZeneca's India-made Covishield vaccine against the novel coronavirus that has claimed nearly nearly 1,950 lives in the country. The decision to grant the approval for the vaccine was taken on Friday, Nepal's Department of Drug Administration (DDA) said in a statement.
"Conditional permission has been granted for emergency use authorisation of Covishield vaccine against COVID-19 in Nepal," the statement said.
Drug major AstraZeneca has partnered with the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, for the supply of the vaccine to the Indian government and also to a large number of low and middle-income countries.

Just one new Covid-19 case in Noida since March

Uttar Pradesh's Gautam Buddh Nagar recorded just one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, the lowest single-day count since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, even as the district's infection tally reached 25,260. The active cases in the district also came down to 217 from 238 the previous day, while its recovery rate reached 98.78 per cent, according to data released by the Uttar Pradesh Health Department for a 24-hour period.
On the brighter side, 21 more patients got discharged during the period with the overall recoveries reaching 24,952, the fifth highest in the state. Gautam Buddh Nagar has a death toll of 91 with a mortality rate of 0.36 per cent. The recovery rate of patients stood at 98.78 per cent, the statistics showed.
Gautam Buddh Nagar stands ninth among districts in the state in terms of active caseload and 28thin mortality due to the pandemic, it showed. Meanwhile, the number of active COVID-19 cases in the state came down to 9,581 from 10,080 on Thursday, while the overall recoveries reached 5,77,475 and the death toll climbed to 8,553 on Friday, data showed.

Ground report: Covid vaccine dilemma for healthcare workers

Coronavirus LIVE: 114 people in India test positive for UK variant of Covid

The number of people who have tested positive for the new UK variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the country has climbed to 114, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. The ministry said the situation is under careful watch and regular advice is being provided to states.
"The total number of persons found infected with the newUKvariant genome is 114," the ministry said.
Earlier, the ministry had said all these people have been kept in single room isolation at designated Health Care facilities by respective state governments. The close contacts of these people have also been put under quarantine and comprehensive contact tracing has been initiated for co-travellers, family contacts and others, it said, adding that genome sequencing on other specimens is going on.

Beginning of end of Covid-19, says Harsh Vardhan ahead of vaccination drive

A day before a massive countrywide vaccination drive against coronavirus is set to commence, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday said the step is "probably the beginning of the end" of COVID-19.
Speaking at the 146th India Meteorological Department (IMD) foundation day, he, however, cautioned that even if the vaccination drive is on, there should not be lowering of guard and people must follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour.
"Tomorrow is an important is the last phase of the battle against coronavirus. I say, this is probably the beginning of the end of COVID now which is going to start tomorrow," Vardhan, who is also Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Minister, said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will launch India's COVID-19 vaccination drive on January 16 via video conferencing.

Delhi records 295 fresh Covid-19 cases, positivity rate dips to 0.44%

Delhi on Friday recorded 295 fresh COVID-19 infections, the lowest in more than eight months, which pushed the caseload to 6,31,884 while the positivity rate slipped to 0.44 per cent. The national capital had recorded 293 cases on April 26, according to official data.
The death toll mounted to 10,732 with 10 new fatalities.
The number of active cases in the national capital came down to 2,795 from 2,937 the previous day. The positivity rate dropped to 0.44 per cent. The 295 fresh cases came out of 66,921 tests conducted the previous day, including 38,990 RT-PCR tests and 27,931 rapid antigen tests, according to the latest bulletin issued by the Delhi health department.

482 new coronavirus cases take Uttar Pradesh's tally to 595,614

The COVID-19 death toll in Uttar Pradesh rose to 8,558 on Friday with 15 more fatalities, while 482 new cases pushed the infection tally to 5,95,614.
"The number of active cases in the state stands at 9,581, of which 3,572 are under home isolation. So far, 5,77,475 people have recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospitals," Additional Chief Secretary (Health) Amit Mohan Prasad told reporters here.
He said in the past 24 hours, 482 new cases have been reported and 956 people have been discharged after recovery. The death toll stands at 8,558, Prasad said. Over 2.59 crore tests have been done in the state so far, with over 1.21 lakh conducted on Thursday, he said.

BMC dispatches Covishied to vaccination centres in Mumbai

Germany passes 2 million mark for coronavirus cases

Germany has passed the mark of 2 million confirmed COVID infections since the start of the pandemic. The country's disease control agency said Friday that there were 22,368 newly confirmed cases over the past 24-hour period, taking the total to 2,000,958. The Robert Koch Institute said there have been 44,994 deaths linked to the coronavirus, an increase of 1,113 in a day.
German news agency dpa reported that newspapers carried significantly more death notices during the period until October 2020 than in the previous year. The Saechsische Zeitung daily, which covers the eastern state of Saxony now badly affected by the outbreak, had three instead of the usual two obituary pages.

Man tests positive for new coronavirus strain in Uttarakhand; first case in state

A man here has tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus and this the first such case in Uttarakhand, a health official said on Friday. He had come in contact with five of his relatives who had recently returned to Dehradun from the UK, District Nodal Officer for COVID Rajeev Dikshit said. Strangely, his relatives have all tested negative for the new strain, but they are COVID-19 positive, he said, adding that the man, in his forties, has never been to Britain.
Their primary and secondary contacts are being traced and their samples are being taken, Dikshit said.
In total seven samples were sent for genome sequencing to the National Centre for Disease Control in Delhi and only the man's sample has tested positive for the new strain of the coronavirus. The result came on Thursday, he said.

India took 'very decisive' steps to deal with coronavirus pandemic: IMF chief

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva has praised India for taking "very decisive" steps to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences and asked the country to do more this year to support an accelerated transformation of the economy.
Participating in a global media roundtable on Thursday, the chief of the International Monetary Fund predicted a less bad outlook for India in the upcoming World Economic Update due to the steps taken by it.
When I called on everybody to stay tuned for January 26, that applies very much to India. You would see a picture in our update that is less bad. Why? Because the country actually has taken very decisive action, very decisive steps to deal with the pandemic and to deal with the economic consequences of it, Georgieva said.

Chinese mainland reports 144 new Covid-19 cases

The Chinese mainland on Thursday reported 144 new Covid-19 cases, of which 135 were locally transmitted and the rest nine arrived from outside, the National Health Commission said on Friday.
Of the locally transmitted cases, 90 were reported in Hebei, 43 in Heilongjiang, and one each in Guangxi and Shaanxi, the commission said in its daily report. No new deaths due to the disease were registered, and one suspected case arriving from outside the mainland was reported in Shanghai. 
By the end of Thursday, a total of 4,474 imported cases had been reported on the mainland. The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases on the mainland has so far reached 87,988.

Only 1 new Covid-19 deaths per million population reported in India in last seven days

700 healthcare workers in Goa to get Covid-19 vaccine on Jan 16

As many as 700 healthcare workers will be administered the COVID-19 vaccine in Goa on the first day of the vaccination drive on January 16, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said on Friday. Vaccination will initially take place at seven centres, including two private facilities in the state, the chief minister said. At least 100 healthcare workers each will be inoculated at seven centres on the first day of the programme, he said.
Apart from five government-run facilities, the drive will also be carried out at Manipal Hospital and Healthway Hospital, both located near Panaji, a senior health department official said.
The dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital Dr Shivanand Bandekar said a special facility has been set up at the GMCH by converting an examination hall-cum-auditorium into a vaccination centre.

EC nod to use its data for Covid-19 vaccination drive; wants data to be deleted after exercise is over

The Election Commission will extend "full assistance" to the government in identifying targeted beneficiaries at the polling station level for the COVID-19 vaccination drive, but wants health authorities to delete the data once the inoculation exercise is over, PTI reported on Friday. On December 31 last year, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla wrote to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora requesting the commission's help in identifying people above 50 years of age at the polling station level, the sources said.
On the issue of data security, the home secretary wrote that the government is complying with the current best practices for ensuring cyber security.
He has assured the poll panel that the data will be used only for the purpose of vaccination. The Election Commission (EC), after detailed deliberations, wrote back to the home secretary on January 4, saying it has decided to render "full assistance" in the vaccination drive. But asked the government to ensure that the data is strictly used for the limited purpose for which it has been sought, the sources said.

Russia registers 24,715 Covid-19 cases in past 24 hours

Russia registered 24,715 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, down from 24,763 the day before, taking the tally to 3,520,531, the coronavirus response centre said on Friday.
"Over the past day, 24,715 coronavirus cases were confirmed across 85 Russian regions, including 3,258 cases (13.2 per cent) that were detected actively, with people showing no clinical symptoms," the centre said, adding that the cumulative case count has now reached 3,520,531, with the rate of increase at 0.7 per cent.
Moscow confirmed 5,534 new coronavirus cases over the given period, down from 5,893 the day before. The Russian capital was followed by St. Petersburg with 3,094 cases, up from 3,041 the day before, and the Moscow Region with 1,361 new cases, up from 1,263 the day before.
The response centre reported 555 coronavirus fatalities, down from 570 the day before, raising the country's death toll to 64,495. Total recoveries count 2,909,680 after 27,636 people were discharged from hospitals over the past day, down from 27,956 the day before.

Coronavirus LIVE: Telangana logs 202 new Covid-19 cases

Telangana on Thursday reported 202 new COVID-19 cases, as per the State Health Department on Friday. With this, Telangana's total tally of COVID-19 cases has mounted to 2,91,118 including 4,442 active cases.
The new discharges reported in the state are 253 making the total discharges reach 2,85,102. However, two deaths succumbed to the deadly virus in the state making the total death toll touch 1,574.
India reported 15,590 new COVID-19 cases and 191 deaths in the last 24 hours, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. The overall coronavirus tally in the country has reached 1,05,27,683, including 2,13,027 active cases.

Sanitary workers to get Covid vaccine in Karnataka's Kalaburagi in phase 1

Along with doctors and healthcare workers, sanitary workers will also be administered the Covid-19 vaccine in the first phase of the inoculation drive in Karnataka's Kalaburagi, informed City Corporation Commissioner, Snehal Lokhande on Friday.
Speaking to ANI, Lokhande said, "During the Covid-19 pandemic, the sanitary workers of our Mahanagar Palika have worked very hard. They have done a good job in such a high-risk situation. They have collected garbage from hospitals and other households too."
"Thus, we have decided that these sanitary workers will get vaccinated too. For that, we have prepared a list of these sanitary workers who will get vaccinated during the first phase," Lokhande said. Read on...

France imposes nationwide curfew for at least 15 days to curb coronavirus

All of France will be under a stricter curfew starting Saturday at 6 p.m. for at least 15 days to fight spread of the coronavirus.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex also announced strict new controls for those arriving in France from countries outside the European Union. Starting Monday, they must produce a PCR test with negative results and self-isolate for seven days followed by a new, negative test.
France wants to coordinate a response with the European Union about arrivals from EU countries, he says. The French government is trying to avoid a third lockdown with partial measures like curfews the prime minister calls both preventative and reactive. Most regions were under an 8 p.m. curfew, but now everyone must be home at 6 p.m., Castex says. That means that stores must close by then. Bars and restaurants have been closed for months. Read on...

Turkey begins mass Covid-19 vaccination with Sinovac's jabs

Turkey launched the mass vaccination programme against Covid-19 with the vaccines developed by China's Sinovac company.
According to the Turkish Health Ministry, the first doses will be given to over 1 million health workers across the country, followed by adults living in nursing homes, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.
The vaccination of healthcare workers in the country's biggest city Istanbul with a population of 16.5 million is expected to be completed within two days, according to Nurettin Yiyit, the chief doctor of the Feriha Oz Emergency Hospital.

Poor infection control, slow recovery: Dual TB-Covid-19 load hits states

It has been two months since Kenchamma, 48, started on tuberculosis (TB) medication under the government programme in Tumkur, Karnataka but recovery has been slow. "She is still not well--feels nauseous, exhausted and weak," said her son, Ashok Kumar.
Kenchamma had both TB and Covid-19, a debilitating combination that makes recovery from either disease hard, doctors said. Read on...

S Korea reports 513 new Covid-19 cases, 71,241 in total

South Korea reported 513 more cases of Covid-19 as of midnight Thursday compared to 24 hours ago, raising the total number of infections to 71,241.
The daily caseload stayed below 600 for five straight days, after posting 451 on January 11. It peaked at 1,240 on December 25 last year.
The daily number of infections hovered above 100 since November 8 owing to small cluster infections in Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi province as well as imported cases.

Oil prices mixed as lockdowns in Chinese cities raise questions on demand

 Oil prices were mixed on Friday as strong import data from China, the world's biggest crude importer, that boosted sentiment earlier ran into concerns about Chinese cities in lockdown due to coronavirus outbreaks.
Brent was down 3 cents at $56.69 by 0133 GMT, after gaining 0.6% on Thursday. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was up 12 cents at $53.69 a barrel, having risen more than 1% the previous session. Read on...

China's Hebei reports 90 confirmed Covid-19 cases

North China's Hebei Province reported 90 locally transmitted confirmed Covid-19 cases and nine locally transmitted asymptomatic cases on Thursday, the provincial health commission said on Friday.
Of the new confirmed cases, 84 were in the provincial capital Shijiazhuang, including five previously reported asymptomatic cases. The other six cases were reported in the city of Xingtai.
Of the new asymptomatic cases, five were reported in Shijiazhuang and four in Xingtai.

Global Covid-19 caseload crosses 93 million

The worldwide number of confirmed Covid-19 cases has surpassed 93 million, Johns Hopkins University reported.
The exact number of the coronavirus cases stood at 93,018,040 as of 01:20 GMT on Friday.

US weekly unemployment claims soar to nearly 1 million

Initial unemployment claims in the US soared to 965,000 last week, indicating severe disruption to the labor market recovery by Covid-19 spikes, according to the government.
In the week ending January 9, the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits jumped by 181,000 from the previous week's downwardly revised level of 784,000, according to a report released on Thursday by the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Meanwhile, the total number of people claiming benefits in all programs, state and federal combined, for the week ending December 26, 2020, decreased by 744,511, but remained elevated at 18.4 million, as the country struggles to grapple with the fallout of the surging Covid-19 infections.

Government to compare vaccines Covaxin, Covishield on different parameters

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said on Thursday that the government will compare the coronavirus vaccines - Covishield and Covaxin on different parameters for recordkeeping purposes.
According to the Union Health Ministry, the comparison parameters will include vaccine platform, physical specifications, dosage, cold chain storage requirements, and minor adverse events following the immunisation. READ ON...

Pregnant, lactating women shouldn't be administered Covid vaccine now: Govt

Interchangeability of Covid-19 vaccines is not permitted and pregnant and lactating women should not be administered the shots as they have not been part of any anti-coronavirus vaccine clinical trial so far, the health ministry said on Thursday.
In a letter to all states and Union territories, the ministry highlighted that under the emergency use authorisation, coronavirus vaccination is indicated only for 18 years and above. If required, Covid19 vaccine and other vaccines should be separated by an interval of at least 14 days. Read on...

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