Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan had on Tuesday issued specific guidelines to the states in the backdrop of “initial signs of surge” in cases of Covid-19 as well as increased detection of the Omicron in different parts of the country. After Maharashtra and Karnataka, Delhi also came out with fresh curbs.
According to data updated at 8 am on Wednesday, India recorded 6,317 new cases of Covid-19 and 318 deaths in the last 24 hours. The country’s active caseload presently stands at 78,190, the lowest in 575 days.
According to news agency PTI, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a meeting on the situation amid fresh concerns caused by the Omicron variant.
Christmas, New Year gatherings banned in Delhi
Amid the threat posed by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has stated that no event or gathering to celebrate Christmas or New Year will be allowed in the city.
DDMA said that as per its order dated December 15, all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious events are prohibited and no gatherings can be held. “All District Magistrates and DCPs shall ensure that no cultural event/gatherings/congregations take place for celebrating Christmas or New Year in NCT of Delhi,” it stated.
Delhi recorded 125 Covid cases in a day with a positivity rate of 0.20 per cent while there was zero death due to the viral infection, according to data shared by the Delhi health department on Wednesday.
With this, the total number of cases reported in the city so far increased to 14,42,515. Of these, over 14.16 lakh have recuperated from the disease, the department said.
The death toll due to Covid-19 stands at 25,102. Delhi has recorded four deaths due to Covid in December so far. The city reported 102 cases on Tuesday with a positivity rate of 0.20 per cent and 91 cases on Monday with the same positivity rate.
Karnataka orders quarantine for primary, secondary contacts of Covid patients
The Karnataka government Wednesday directed the health officials, deputy commissioners and district surveillance officials to steadfastly track, trace and quarantine primary and secondary contacts of persons infected by Covid-19. Currently, around 300 Covid cases are being reported daily in Karnataka and the Test Positivity Rate (TPR) is between 0.25 per cent and 0.3 per cent. As on date, 19 cases of Omicron have been detected in Karnataka.
In a circular issued to the district and health officials, principal secretary, health and family welfare, T K Anil Kumar said 19 cases of the Omicron variant have been detected and “if left unchecked, may trigger a spike in number of new infections.”
“To sustain the gains achieved so far in surveillance, containment efforts and to make best efforts to prevent occurrence of the third wave of COVID infections in the State, it is necessary to trace, track and quarantine the primary and secondary contacts of COVID-19 positive persons, more effectively,” Kumar said in his circular.
When will government provide vaccine booster shots, asks Rahul Gandhi
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said a large population of the country is still not vaccinated against Covid-19, noting that only 42 percent of the population will be vaccinated by December end against the required rate of 60 percent to prevent the third wave of coronavirus.
He also asked the government to provide booster shots. Sharing data about vaccinations, Gandhi said there is a daily shortfall of 55.3 million doses (one million is equal to 10 lakh). “Majority of our population is still not vaccinated. When will GOI begin booster shots? #VaccinateIndia,” he tweeted.
Meanwhile, Dr VK Paul, Member-Health, Niti Aayog said that booster doses, if introduced, have to be backed by scientific decision-making. “Health Minister has said in the parliament, the need, the timing, and the nature of boosting if any will be based on the scientific decision, thinking,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
No vaccination certificate, no salary: Punjab govt tells employees
The Punjab government has told its employees they won’t get their salaries if they don’t furnish their Covid vaccine certificate.
It has asked the employees to register their full or provisional vaccination certificate number with the state government’s human resources portal iHRMS. If they fail to do so, they will not be able to get their salaries, the government said in an order.
The move is being seen as the state government’s attempt to encourage more and more employees to get themselves vaccinated against Covid as concerns escalate over the new variant of coronavirus, Omicron.
The order issued by the Punjab government also asked employees to link the Covid vaccination certificate number with the salary module so that in case an employee does not furnish information regarding vaccination, his/her salary is not released.
Haryana to impose restrictions on those who aren’t fully vaccinated
Haryana is set to impose restrictions on people who are not fully vaccinated against Covid, state Health Minister Anil Vij said on Wednesday.
“From January 1, people who have not taken both doses will not be allowed to enter marriage halls, hotels, restaurants, offices, banks, or other public places. This is to protect ourselves amid the rising Omicron threat,” Vij was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Nine more cases of Omicron detected in Kerala, tally now 24
Nine more cases of the Omicron variant of coronavirus were detected in Kerala on Wednesday, taking the tally to 24, state Health Minister Veena George said. Six people who reached Ernakulam and three who reached Thiruvananthapuram have been detected with the virus, the minister said.
Two from the UK, aged 18 and 47 years, a 43-year-old woman and a 11-year-old from Tanzania, a woman aged 44 from Ghana and a 26-year-old woman from Ireland are those found infected in Ernakulam.
A couple aged 54 and 52 from Nigeria and a woman aged 51 from the UK were confirmed with the infection in Thiruvananthapuram.
Second Omicron case in Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday reported its second positive case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 after the samples of a 39-year-old woman who recently arrived from Kenya, confirmed it, the state health department said.
The woman who landed at Chennai airport on December 10 and travelled to Tirupati by road is healthy and in institutional quarantine under close observation of the health department officials, the official twitter handle of ArogyaAndhra said.
“She was tested upon reaching Tirupati and was declared RT-PCR positive for COVID-19 on December 12, 2021. Her sample was sent to CCMB, Hyderabad for genome sequencing and the result was declared as Omicron positive on 22-12-2021,” it said.
However, six of the family members of the woman have tested negative for the virus.
This is the second case of Omicron identified in the state.
Four more Omicron cases in Rajasthan
Four new cases of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Rajasthan, the state Health Department said Wednesday. Three of the patients are Jaipur residents with no travel history or contact with any positive person or foreigner, a statement from the department said.
The new variant was also detected in a 27-year-old female resident of Kenya who is currently under isolation at a Delhi hospital, it said, adding that the state government has informed the authorities in Delhi about the case.
According to the department, one of the three cases in Jaipur is a 62-year-old resident of Pratapnagar. The man had been admitted to a hospital on December 10 after experiencing fever and subsequently tested positive for Covid-19. He was discharged from the hospital on December 18 after testing negative, the department said.
(With agency inputs)