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Coronavirus live | Omicron-hit may escape reinfection with Delta variant, says ICMR study

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Coronavirus live | Omicron-hit may escape reinfection with Delta variant, says ICMR study

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. 

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the updates:

North Korea

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

National

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

China

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

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.

National

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

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

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

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

International

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

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

Denmark

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

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

New Delhi

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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Roach returns to West Indies squad for ODIs in India

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Roach returns to West Indies squad for ODIs in India

The ODIs against India will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on February 6, 9 and 11

Seasoned pacer Kemar Roach and young all-rounder Nkrumah Bonner have been recalled to the West Indies ODI squad for the three-match series in India beginning February 6.

Roach, who has not played any List A cricket since his last ODI in 2019, has made the return with West Indies great Desmond Haynes picking him in his first squad selection since taking over as lead selector.

Six additions have been made to the squad, to be led by Kieron Pollard, that lost to Ireland at home.

The ODIs against India will be played at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on February 6, 9 and 11.

The T20Is will be played at Eden Gardens in Kolkata on February 16, 18 and 20 and the Caribbean squad for that is expected to be announced on January 28.

Besides the experienced Roach, the 22-year-old Bonner, a middle-order batter whose last ODI appearance was exactly a year ago, and Brandon King, an opener, have been recalled to the squad.

The 27-year-old King’s last one-day outing in national colours was back in 2020.

Roach has so far played 92 ODIs with 124 wickets.

Bonner made his ODI debut in Bangladesh a year ago and has so far played three matches, while King has appeared in four matches in this format.

“Kemar Roach is one of our leading fast bowlers and we believe we need bowlers upfront to get early wicket, and Kemar, with an economy rate of five, is certainly good enough to play.

“Over the last few years, Nkrumah Bonner’s cricket has come on leaps and bounds and we believe he should be given an opportunity to play in the 50-over format,” said Haynes in a statement.” The series will be part of the ICC ODI Super League and the West Indies will have the opportunity to win points to be one of the top seven teams, excluding hosts India, to gain automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup.

“We want to have competition for places. We want to reach a stage where we have a lot of players fighting for positions. We want to broaden the pool of players we have to choose from.

“The team we have selected is a very good side and we are looking at this tour as part of the preparations for the World Cup in India in 2023,” Haynes added.

Squad: Kieron Pollard (captain), Fabian Allen, Nkrumah Bonner, Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Nicholas Pooran, Kemar Roach, Romario Shepherd, Odean Smith, Hayden Walsh Jr.

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Powell’s 51-ball hundred powers Windies to victory over England in third T20

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Powell’s 51-ball hundred powers Windies to victory over England in third T20

After losing the second match by one run, the hosts posted a challenging 224-5 in 20 overs with Powell’s 53-ball knock including 10 sixes and four boundaries.

A blistering 107 from Rovman Powell and Nicholas Pooran’s half-century helped West Indies secure a 20-run victory over England in Bridgetown on Wednesday and take a 2-1 lead in the five-match Twenty20 International series.

After losing the second match by one run, the hosts posted a challenging 224-5 in 20 overs with Powell’s 53-ball knock including 10 sixes and four boundaries.

He combined well with Pooran, who scored 70 from 43 balls, as the pair put on 122 runs for the third wicket after England won the toss and opted to field.

England, who were without injured skipper Eoin Morgan and handed debuts to three players, managed 204-9 in 20 overs, including a battling 73 by Tom Banton and 57 by Phil Salt lower down the order in his first T20 international game.

West Indies paceman Romario Shepherd took 3-59 while skipper Kieron Pollard claimed two wickets to seal the win.

“Kudos to Rovman. He came in and took his chance,” Pollard said. “We had a good discussion about our batting and what we wanted to do. It was a complete game, I’m happy for the guys.

“The challenge is coming back again, we want to replicate that performance.”

England stand-in skipper Moeen Ali said the side had missed Morgan’s influence but looked forward to the final two matches on Saturday and Sunday.

“A fantastic partnership took the game away from us but proud of the way the boys batted at the end,” Moeen said. “We’ve got guys putting their hands up … We’re confident in our side and we said from the start it would be a brilliant series.”

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Central Michigan University to Pay Tuition After Scholarship Error

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Central Michigan University to Pay Tuition After Scholarship Error

A full ride, including tuition, room and board, plus a $5,000 award to study abroad and admission to the school’s honors program.

That’s what 58 high school seniors were told they would receive from Central Michigan University when they were notified over the weekend that they had been awarded the school’s prestigious Centralis Scholar Award.

But then on Sunday they got horrible news: They had been sent that message by mistake. In fact, they had actually not been awarded the scholarship to the university of about 20,000 students in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Three days later, however, Central Michigan University said in a statement on Wednesday evening that it planned to pay four years of full tuition for the students who had been mistakenly told that they had been awarded full rides. They will not, however, receive other perks of the scholarship, a university spokesman said.

The university said that it would be reaching out to the students with the amended offer.

“We deeply regret the disappointment and frustration caused by the test message error in the student portal,” the university said in the statement.

Earlier Wednesday, the university said that the messages about the Centralis Scholar Award were sent out inadvertently by school staff members when new messaging technology was being tested.

On Sunday, the university’s executive director of admissions contacted the families of students who had received the messages by mistake to apologize for the miscommunication, the university said.

In an updated statement on Wednesday evening, Central Michigan University said that “to make it right” the 58 students who had received the congratulatory message by mistake would now receive offers “to increase their award amount to the equivalent of a full-tuition scholarship.”

It was unclear what specific amounts the students would receive, but undergraduate tuition is $12,750 per year, according to the university.

It was also unclear on Wednesday night whether the students were eligible for the Centralis Scholar Award.

To receive the award, high school seniors must have a grade-point average of at least 3.7, according to the university.

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Judge Says States Can Investigate WinRed’s Fund-Raising Tactics

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Judge Says States Can Investigate WinRed’s Fund-Raising Tactics

A federal judge in Minnesota on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit filed by WinRed, a company that processes online donations for Republicans, that sought to block state attorneys general from investigating fund-raising tactics that have triggered complaints of fraud.

The attorneys general from four states — New York, Minnesota, Maryland and Connecticut — first sent letters to WinRed last April, asking for documents after a New York Times investigation revealed the company’s use of prechecked boxes to automatically enroll donors in recurring contribution programs. The boxes resulted in a surge in demands for refunds from supporters of former President Donald J. Trump.

WinRed declined to provide the documents and instead went to federal court to argue that federal law should pre-empt any state-level consumer investigations. Chief Judge John R. Tunheim of the U.S. District Court in Minnesota ruled against the company on Wednesday.

Judge Tunheim dismissed WinRed’s attempt to stop the attorneys general investigating outside Minnesota, ruling that he did not have jurisdiction. He ruled in favor of the Minnesota attorney general, Keith Ellison, writing that federal law would not pre-empt a state inquiry.

“The court has confirmed an important principle that has nothing to do with politics: State attorneys general can use the laws and investigatory tools of their states to protect the consumers of their states from harm, deception, and abuse,” Mr. Ellison said.

Judge Tunheim also denied a request to block a subpoena from the attorneys general, which was issued last July 16, shortly after WinRed went to federal court, according to the ruling issued on Wednesday.

“WinRed will appeal,” the company said in an emailed statement.

WinRed has argued that the attorneys general, all Democrats, are politically motivated. However, the four also sent a similar request for documents last year to ActBlue, the leading Democratic donation-processing platform. ActBlue said on Wednesday that it had also received a subpoena and that it had shared the requested information.

After the ruling Wednesday, Attorney General Brian Frosh of Maryland urged WinRed to cooperate with the inquiry.

“Now that its case has been dismissed, it is our hope that WinRed moves from a strategy of attack, attack, attack and cooperates in the investigation of allegations that it deceived consumers around the nation,” he said in a statement.

New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, said, “It’s their responsibility to be honest and transparent with their services, and it’s the responsibility of the states to fight back against deceptive behavior in all its forms.”

In the fall of 2020, the Trump campaign used prechecked boxes to get a donor’s permission to withdraw extra donations every week — then obscured that fact below extra text unrelated to the additional withdrawals. In the following weeks and months, demands for refunds increased sharply as supporters said they were duped into unwitting contributions.

All told, the Trump operation, working with the Republican Party, refunded more than 10 percent of every dollar raised through WinRed in the 2020 campaign — a rate more than four times that of the Democrat Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s operation.

The bipartisan Federal Election Commission voted unanimously last year to recommend that Congress outlaw the practice of prechecked recurring donation boxes. Legislation has since been introduced in both the House and the Senate.

Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Breyer’s Retirement Gives Democrats a Dose of (Cautious) Optimism

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Breyer’s Retirement Gives Democrats a Dose of (Cautious) Optimism

“They didn’t think reproductive rights were actually going to be taken away,” he added. “Now they know it’s true. And it’s true across a range of issues.”

Democratic voters, others say, have been alarmed by what they see as an all-out effort by Republicans, led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to shift the balance of court at all costs, beginning with scuttling the nomination of Mr. Obama’s third Supreme Court nominee, Merrick B. Garland. The bitter confirmation process of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh and the installation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett just days before the 2020 presidential election, have only further concerned them.

“Enormous scar tissue was left as a result of that decision by Leader McConnell,” Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Mr. Obama, said in an interview, recalling the Garland nomination. “I do think, in light of the landmark decisions that are now up for review and the controversy around Donald Trump’s appointments, that people generally are paying very close attention to the composition of the court.”

Geoff Garin, a Democratic pollster, said that the coming confirmation process could also be a powerful reminder to voters of the importance of keeping a Democratic majority in the Senate.

“Democratic voters are painfully aware of what would happen if McConnell were in charge of the Senate if there were a nomination,” Mr. Garin said. “At a time when some Democratic voters are feeling unsure of what the benefit of a Democratic majority is, having a Supreme Court fight makes the importance crystal clear to voters.”

Senate Democrats have promised a quick confirmation process. The list of possible replacements includes women who have already weathered the Senate confirmation process, including Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who successfully did so last year, when Mr. Biden elevated her from the Federal District Court in the District of Columbia to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Two other options include Justice Leondra R. Kruger of the California Supreme Court and J. Michelle Childs, whom Mr. Biden said he would nominate for federal appeals court for the District of Columbia Circuit, a frequent staging ground for potential Supreme Court justices.

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Australian Open | Medvedev fights back from the brink; Swiatek rallies to beat Kanepi

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Australian Open | Medvedev fights back from the brink; Swiatek rallies to beat Kanepi

Tsitsipas eases past Sinner in straight sets; the Pole sets up a semifinal clash with Collins, who ends Cornet’s campaign

Daniil Medvedev rallied from two sets down and saved a match point before beating No. 9 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7(4), 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5, 6-4 on Wednesday to move into the Australian Open semifinals.

The U.S. Open champion’s bid to become the first man in the Open era to win his second Grand Slam title in the next major tournament is still on track after the 4-hour, 42-minute comeback victory.

Medvedev will play French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday in a rematch of last year’s semifinals at Melbourne Park. Medvedev won at the same stage last year, but lost the final to Novak Djokovic.

Tsitsipas beat No. 11 Jannik Sinner 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Facing defeat Wednesday, Medvedev got a break. A six-minute delay in the third-set tiebreaker for the roof on Rod Laver Arena to be closed during a rain shower swung the momentum mostly his way.

Auger-Aliassime won only one of the last six points in the tiebreaker after dominating for the first two sets. He missed a match point on Medvedev’s serve in the 10th game of the fourth set.

Medvedev saved it with a big first serve out wide and then held with an overhead winner.

‘What would Novak do?’

“I was not playing my best, and Felix was playing unbelievable, serving unbelievable — he was all over me,” Medvedev said. “I didn’t know what to do so I (asked) myself, ‘What would Novak do?’

“And I just thought, OK, I’m going to make him work. If he wants to win it, he has to… fight to the last point.”

The temperature dropped for the men’s quarterfinals from the highs of the afternoon, when Iga Swiatek beat 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-3, with the payoff being a spot in the semifinals against Danielle Collins.

“This match was crazy,” the 20-year-old 2020 French Open champion said. “First set I think my mistake was I had so many break points, I felt like I missed my chances. In the second set … I felt like she’s playing so fast that I can’t be tight. I had to finish my forehands.”

The temperature reached 36 degrees Celsius on Day 10, continuing a week of hot weather.

Collins won the opening match before the heat peaked, swinging it in her favour with a key service break in the final game of the opening set on her way to a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Alize Cornet.

The 115th-ranked Kanepi was coming off a three-set win over second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and took the match to Swiatek, who saved nine set points before losing the first set.

Swiatek rallied in the second and third sets. And, after being broken while serving for the match the first time, she eventually clinched it on Kanepi’s serve.

After the first three quarterfinals were decided in straight sets — Ash Barty beat Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys beat Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday — the last one went all the way.

As she left the court, Swiatek wrote on the TV camera lens: “Thank you for the support. # Tired.”

Collins’ win means there are two Americans in the semifinals. Keys will play Wimbledon champion Barty.

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England lifts restrictions as Omicron threat recedes

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England lifts restrictions as Omicron threat recedes

From January 27, 2022, 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.

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.

Watch | All about the new Omicron coronavirus variant

From Thursday, January 27, 2022, 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.

Plan B

The so-called “Plan B” measures were introduced in early December to stop the rapid spread of the Omicron variant from overwhelming health services and to buy time for the population to get its booster vaccine shot.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the government’s vaccine rollout, testing and development of antiviral treatments combine to make “some of the strongest defences in Europe”, allowing a “cautious return” to normalcy.

But he added that “as we learn to live with COVID, we need to be clear-eyed that this virus is not going away”. While infections continue to fall, health officials said that Omicron remained prevalent across the country, especially among children and the elderly.

Officials said almost 84 per cent of people over 12 years old in the UK have had their second vaccine dose, and that of those eligible, 81 per cent have received their booster shot.

Low ICUs

Hospital admissions and the number of people in intensive care units have stabilised or fallen, and daily cases have fallen from a peak of over 200,000 cases a day around New Year to under 100,000 in recent days.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said last week that the surge of Omicron infections “has now peaked nationally”.

As the government moved away from legal measures, some shops and public transport operators say they will continue to ask people to don their face masks. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said face coverings will still be required on the capital’s buses and subway trains.

The legal requirement for those infected to self-isolate for five full days remains, but Johnson said that measure will also end soon, to be replaced with advice and guidance for those infected to be cautious.

Health officials have said they are planning a longer-term, post-pandemic strategy that treats COVID-19 more like the flu.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which make their own public health rules, have similarly relaxed their virus restrictions.

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Karimnagar achieves 100.19% second dose coverage

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Karimnagar achieves 100.19% second dose coverage

Karimnagar district has achieved 100.19% coverage of the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination, thereby becoming the first district in the State to achieve this feat, the health department said.

The district also surpassed its target and achieved 104% vaccination of its eligible population with the first dose, sources added.

In recognition of the relentless efforts made by the frontline healthcare workers and other field functionaries of the health department in this regard, a function was held in their honour at the auditorium in the Collectorate here on Wednesday.

Civil Supplies and BC Welfare Minister G. Kamalakar presented cash incentives of ₹ 1 lakh each to the staff of the five Primary Health Centres in the district for their remarkable contribution in achieving this feat.

The Minister lauded the efforts of the staff of the health and other allied departments led by Collector R V Karnan in vigorously implementing the COVID vaccination drive with remarkable success.

Booster dose drive

The Collector said around 72.46% of teenagers aged 15-17 years have been administered COVID vaccine in the district so far. The booster dose vaccination drive is progressing at a brisk pace and 34.47% of the eligible persons have been covered across the district till date.

Additional Collector (local bodies) Garima Agrawal, District Medical and Health Officer Dr. Juveria and others were present.

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Governor to sign fast-tracked $225M for Pennsylvania healthcare workers

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Governor to sign fast-tracked 5M for Pennsylvania healthcare workers

Two months after the omicron variant of the coronavirus slammed hospitals with unvaccinated patients, Pennsylvania’s Legislature unanimously sent fast-tracked legislation to Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday to help keep burned-out healthcare workers on board during a staffing crisis.

The bill authorized $225 million, mostly for hospitals to give workers retention and recruitment payments.

Of that, about $36 million will go to facilities that provide inpatient behavioral health services.

Another $15 million will go to an oversubscribed program promising nurses up to $7,500 in student loan-debt relief, although officials acknowledged that the extra money still will not satisfy all of the more than 8,000 applications it has received.

The money is from federal pandemic relief signed by President Joe Biden last March.

The 14-day moving average of hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients hit an all-time high of above 7,000 in recent days. The surge in unvaccinated patients came during what the CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania called “the most severe health care staffing shortage in recent memory.”

Neither lawmakers or Wolf administration officials could estimate how many healthcare workers will be eligible for an increase in pay. They said they negotiated the sum with provider groups and insisted the money is adequate, at least for the time being.

The money is intended for staff who are involved in direct patient care, environmental services or clinical care, and not for executives, contracted staff or administrators.

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