With India continuing to be in the grip of the third wave of the coronavirus, hospitalisation trends from majors States suggest it is so far less pernicious than previous waves.
Here are the updates:
N. Korea, after harsh 2-year lockdown, slowly reopens border
After spending two years in a strict lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea may finally be opening up — slowly. The reason could reflect a growing sense of recognition by the leadership that the nation badly needs to win outside economic relief.
The North’s tentative reopening is seen in the apparent resumption of North Korean freight train traffic into neighbouring China. But it comes even as Pyongyang has staged several weapons tests, the latest being two suspected ballistic missiles on Thursday, and issued a veiled threat about resuming tests of nuclear explosives and long-range missiles targeting the American homeland. -AP
Active COVID-19 cases in country decline to 22,02,472
With 2,86,384 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of COVID-19 cases rose to 4,03,71,500, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Thursday.
The death toll has climbed to 4,91,700 with 573 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated.
The active cases have decreased to 22,02,472 and comprise 5.46% of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has decreased to 93.33%, the ministry said.
A reduction of 20,546 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. -PTI
Beijing 2022 says 23 new COVID-19 cases found among Games-related personnel
Twenty-three new cases of COVID-19 were detected among Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Games-related personnel on January 26 organisers said on January 27.
Of the 23 cases 15 were detected amongst new arrivals at the airport. The other eight were found amongst those already in the organisers’ closed loop COVID-19 management bubble.
England lifts Covid restrictions as Omicron threat recedes
Most coronavirus restrictions including mandatory face masks were lifted in England on Thursday, after Britain’s government said its vaccine booster rollout successfully reduced serious illness and COVID-19 hospitalisations.
From Thursday, face coverings are no longer required by law anywhere in England, and a legal requirement for COVID passes for entry into nightclubs and other large venues has been scrapped.
The government last week dropped its advice for people to work from home as well as guidance for face coverings in classrooms.
Omicron-hit may escape reinfection with Delta variant
An Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) study released on bioRxiv preprint server on Wednesday suggested that immune response induced by Omicron, which is currently the dominant COVID mutant in India, could make re-infection with Delta variant less likely.
The study was conducted on 39 individuals, of which 25 had taken both the doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, eight people had taken double dose of Pfizer jab, while six were unvaccinated. Also, 28 of these 39 were mainly foreign returnees from the UAE, South/West/East Africa, Middle East, the U.S. and the U.K,. and 11 people were their high-risk contacts. All these individuals were infected with the Omicron variant. The study assessed the IgG antibody and Neutralising Antibody (NAb) response in the people with breakthrough and natural COVID-19 infections.
Denmark to lift Covid curbs in return to ‘life as we knew it’
Denmark will remove virtually all Covid restrictions from next Tuesday despite record infections, counting on a high vaccination rate to cope with the milder Omicron variant, the government said.
“We are saying farewell to the restrictions and welcome to life as we knew it before corona,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference on Wednesday.
Denmark is set to become the first European Union country to lift domestic curbs despite the Omicron wave sweeping the continent, according to a survey of AFP bureaus. -AFP
Russia offering jabs to children aged 12-17 as cases soar
Russia on Wednesday expanded a domestically developed coronavirus vaccine for children aged 12-17 to include more regions, amid the country’s biggest infection surge yet due to the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant.
Earlier this week, free shots of Sputnik M — a version of the Sputnik V vaccine that contains a smaller dose — became available to that age group in a number of areas spanning from the Moscow region surrounding the capital to the Urals to Siberia and the far east.
On Wednesday, the jab became available to teenagers in Volgograd, Astrakhan and Kursk. In Moscow, the vaccination campaign will start in the coming days, Deputy Mayor Anastasia Rakova told reporters on Wednesday. -AP
Italy eases travel from the EU as of February
Italy will ease COVID-19 restrictions for all visitors from European Union countries starting from Feb.1 , the health ministry said on Wednesday.
Minister of Health Roberto Speranza has signed an order stating that travellers from EU countries will only need a “green pass,” it said in statement.
The so-called Green Pass, is a document showing proof of COVID-19 immunity through vaccination, previous infection or a negative test. -Reuters
Moderna starts trial testing Omicron-specific booster shot
Moderna Inc said on Wednesday it had dosed the first participant in a mid-stage study testing its Omicron-specific booster vaccine candidate.
The company also reported data showing that neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron COVID-19 variant declined 6.3-fold from peak levels six months after a third booster dose of its vaccine but remained detectable. -Reuters
Israel broadens eligibility for fourth dose of COVID-19 vaccine
Israel on Wednesday broadened eligibility for a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to include adults under 60 with underlying medical conditions, their caretakers, and others over 18 at significant risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
An official statement said the Health Ministry’s director-general had approved the measures. Earlier this month, as the Omicron variant swept the country, Israel began offering a fourth dose, meaning a second booster, of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to people over 60. -Reuters
Omicron subvariant appears more contagious, but not more severe, Denmark says
The BA.2 subvariant of the Omicron coronavirus variant, which is dominant in Denmark, appears more contagious than the more common BA.1 sub-lineage, Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said on Wednesday in a national address.
“There is no evidence that the BA.2 variant causes more disease, but it must be more contagious,” Heunicke told a news conference. -Reuters
Haryana govt extends Covid-related restrictions till Feb 10
The Haryana government on Wednesday extended Covid-related restrictions in the state till February 10, but allowed malls and markets to remain open till 7 pm, extending the relaxation by one hour.
Initially, various restrictions imposed by the January 5 order in some districts, which had witnessed a big spike in cases, were imposed in all districts, the Haryana State Disaster Management Authority (HSDMA) had said in an earlier order issued on January 13. -PTI
Over half of Delhi citizens want weekend curfew to continue: Survey
Fifty four per cent of Delhiites are in favour of lifting the odd-even restrictions in markets but want the weekend curfew to continue till the positivity rate declines to five per cent, a survey has claimed.
Delhi had seen an uptick in COVID-19 infections, mainly triggered by the Omicron variant, but the cases have seen a decline over the last 10 days. -PTI
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