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The country recorded 67,597 new Covid-19 cases on Monday. The total number of infections has reached 4.22 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 11.1 lakh mark.
Here are the updates:
Hong Kong further tightens its tough COVID rules
Hong Kong will limit public gatherings to two people and close sites such as churches and hair salons, leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday, as the Asian financial hub battles a growing coronavirus outbreak that has caused record infections.
Existing social distancing measures will be extended to Feb. 24, Lam told a media briefing. These include a ban on dining in restaurants after 6 p.m. and the closure of gymnasiums and cinemas. – Reuters
COVID-19: Situation in Manipur improving, says Health Director
The COVID-19 situation is improving in Manipur, according to a statement by Health Director Kangujam Rajo.
He said that though the positivity rate was as high as 20.8% on January 28, it came down steadily. On Sunday , it was as low as 10%. There were still 3,786 active cases and the recovery rate was 95.66%.
However, he cautioned that there could be another spike as large gathering of people during the coming elections might further spread the infection.
Vegetable shortage adds to Hong Kong’s COVID woes
Supplies of vegetables were running low in Hong Kong on Tuesday, with shoppers scrambling to buy whatever they could find, as the government blamed a resurgence of COVID-19 for a drop in deliveries of fresh produce from the mainland.
Leader Carrie Lam was due to announce further COVID restrictions later in the day after the city reported a record of more than 600 new cases on Monday. Broadcaster TVB said there were at least 380 confirmed infections on Tuesday with 400 preliminary positive tests.
Addressing a weekly news briefing, Ms. Lam said vegetable deliveries from across the border were down as a result of truck drivers testing positive for the virus, but she did not offer any specific solutions to solve the shortage. – Reuters
New Zealand PM warns of more COVID variants in 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic will not end with the Omicron variant and New Zealand will have to prepare for more variants of the virus this year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Tuesday in her first parliamentary speech for 2022.
Ms. Ardern’s warning came as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the parliament building in the capital Wellington, demanding an end to coronavirus restrictions and vaccine mandates.
“Mr. Speaker, advice from experts is that Omicron will not be the last variant we will face this year,” Ms. Ardern told lawmakers in the speech which was livestreamed. – Reuters
Hong Kong leader says city to stick with ‘dynamic zero’ COVID strategy for now
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the Asian financial hub would stick to a “dynamic zero” COVID-19 strategy to contain the virus as authorities face their biggest test yet to control a record number of infections.
Lam who was speaking at a weekly news briefing said she would announce further COVID restrictions later in the day after the city saw a “shocking” new record of over 600 infections on Monday.
For now, Lam said, the best option was to adhere to the ‘dynamic zero’ strategy employed by mainland China to suppress all coronavirus outbreaks as soon as possible. – Reuters
Odisha CM urges parents to encourage their children to attend schools
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday appealed to parents to send their wards to schools with over 14 lakh students across the state attending physical classes on the first day of reopening of educational institutions.
Patnaik described February 7 as a historic day as schools reopened in the state after a gap of nearly one month due to the prevailing COVID-19 situation.
Schools for standards 8 to 12, colleges and universities resumed physical classes during the day. The educational institutions were shut on January 10 in view of the third wave of the pandemic. – PTI
U.S. CDC urges Americans to avoid travel to Japan, Cuba, Armenia over COVID
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday advised against travel to six countries including Japan, Cuba, Libya, Armenia, Oman and the Democratic Republic of Congo over COVID-19 cases.
The CDC now lists more than 130 countries and territories with COVID-19 cases as “Level Four: Very High.” It lists just over 50 countries as “Level Three: High,” discouraging non-essential travel by unvaccinated Americans. – Reuters
Germany eyes easing COVID rules; pharmacies to offer shots
The German government is working on plans to relax coronavirus restrictions after the peak in new cases has passed, likely by the end of February.
Unlike some of its European neighbors, Germany still has many pandemic restrictions in place that exclude unvaccinated people from restaurants, public venues and some stores.
“Perspectives for opening are being developed,” government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann told reporters Monday in Berlin. She said the measures would be discussed at a meeting of federal and state officials on Feb. 16, but would only take effect when authorities can be sure that Germany’s health system won’t be overwhelmed. – AP
Members of U.S. Congress hold moment of silence for 9,00,000 U.S. COVID deaths
Democratic leaders in the U.S. Congress plan a moment of silence on Monday to commemorate the 9,00,000 American lives lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will gather on the steps of the U.S. Capitol building at 7 p.m. ET (0000 GMT), joined by congressional leadership and a bipartisan group of legislators, according to Pelosi’s office.
The United States reached the milestone of 9,00,000 deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, according to data collected by Reuters, totaling 9,06,017 deaths as of Monday. – Reuters
U.K. consumers slowed their spending as COVID rules returned in January
British consumers slowed the pace of their spending last month as the Omicron COVID-19 wave hit fuel sales and kept people away from bars and restaurants, according to a survey which also pointed to the impact of rising inflation.
Consumer spending was 7.4% higher than in January 2020 – before the pandemic – the weakest increase since April last year, payments provider Barclaycard said.
It said nine in 10 people it surveyed felt their household finances and discretionary spending were being impacted by the recent jump in prices. – Reuters
Undeterred, Delhi students return to school after yet another closure
Stepping out in the winter chill and leaving the comfort of their homes did not deter the spirit of children heading back to school on Monday after yet another COVID-enforced closure.
As physical classes resumed for Classes IX-XII, students were excited to return to school with most of them having got the consent of their parents to attend classes.
COVID cases are gradually declining: Tamil Nadu Health Secretary
With fresh coronavirus infections gradually declining in the State, two districts — Ranipet and Krishnagiri — have a positivity rate of a little over 10%, according to Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan.
After inspecting the COVID-19 ward at the Government Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital on Monday, he said, “COVID-19 cases had peaked around January 20, when the State recorded more than 30,000 cases, and has since been declining gradually. On Sunday, the State recorded 6,120 cases. Cases are declining in almost all the districts, with Chennai’s positivity rate dropping below 5%. Still, the positivity rate is slightly above 10% in Ranipet and Krishnagiri. Cases are on the decline in these districts as well.”
Special attention was being provided to the districts bordering Kerala, like Coimbatore, Theni, Namakkal, Salem, Erode and Tiruppur; districts bordering Andhra Pradesh, like Tiruvallur; and tourist destinations like the Nilgiris, he said.
Sputnik Light nod set to boost vaccine’s demand
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI)‘s approval to the single-shot Sputnik Light for restricted use in emergency situations is likely to boost demand for the Russian vaccine in the country.
Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Sunday evening tweeted “DCGI has granted emergency use permission to single-dose Sputnik Light… this is the 9th COVID19 vaccine in the country,” while pharma major Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories confirmed the development in a statement on Monday.
Sputnik Light is the same as the first component — recombinant human adenovirus serotype number 26 (rAd26 ) — of the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine, whose role in India’s inoculation programme thus far had been limited, for multiple reasons, including those related to its supplies. Also, the two-dose Sputnik has been administered mostly through private hospitals.
India records 65,000 new cases, 1,169 deaths
The country recorded 65,513 new Covid-19 cases on Monday. The total number of infections has reached 4.22 crore, and the active cases have crossed the 11.1 lakh mark.
The figures are based on the State bulletins released until 10 p.m. on Monday. However, Ladakh, Tripura, Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh and Lakshadweep had not yet released data for the day.
Kerala recorded 22,524 infections on Monday, followed by Maharashtra (6,436) and Karnataka (6,151).
On Monday, 1,169 deaths were recorded in India, considerably higher than the average levels recorded in the last week. The total number of recorded fatalities has reached 5,02,900.
DGCI gives nod to SII’s proposal to manufacture vaccine against omicron for test, analysis
The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has approved Serum Institute of India’s proposal to manufacture a vaccine against omicron variant of coronavirus for examination, test and analysis, official sources said on Monday.
“With reference to your application, please find herewith the permission to manufacture SARS-CoV-2 rS Protein (COVID-19) recombinant spike protein nanoparticle vaccine (omicron variant) for examination, test and analysis under the provisions of New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 to manufacture the test batches of the drug/drugs mentioned therein,” an approval order issued on February 4 stated.
Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs at the SII, Prakash Kumar Singh had put in an application to the DCGI on January 6 stating the Pune-based firm, in collaboration with Novavax Inc, is working on the development of a vaccine against omicron, an official source said, adding that the SII has obtained permission and licence to manufacture SARS-CoV-2rS drug substance for examination, test and analysis. – PTI