Coronavirus live: ‘South Africa strain detected in 4 returnees in Jan.; Brazil variant in 1’

The World Health Organization has listed two versions of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving the green light for these vaccines to be rolled out globally through COVAX.

The vaccines are produced by AstraZeneca-SKBio (Republic of Korea) and the Serum Institute of India. The world body also listed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use on December 31, 2020.

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 latest updates:

New Delhi

Only 2 States/UTs contribute 72% of active cases

Highlights from Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s briefing on COVID-19 situation:

“Total cases 1.09 crore; active cases 1.36 lakh; deaths 1.55 lakh and tests done 20.7 crore.

“The active caseload in Kerala and Maharashtra was 61,550 and 37,383 respectively.

“As on 16th February 2021 at 1:00 p.m. the number of vaccine doses administered stands at 87,40,595. 1st dose coverage is 60.5%; 2nd dose coverage is 37.5% [of those who were due].

“Active cases less than 1.40 lakh. Cumulative positivity rate is 5.27%.


“Only 2 States/UTs with more than 35,000 cases contribute 72% of active cases.

“As on day 31 of the vaccination drive (February 15, 2021), a total of 4,35,527 beneficiaries were administered the vaccine. Out of which, 2,99,797 beneficiaries were vaccinated across 10,574 sessions for the first dose and 1,35,730 healthcare workers received the second dose of vaccine.

“11 States/UTs have less than 50% coverage for vaccination, including Delhi, T.N. and Punjab — they have been told to have multiple vaccination sessions.”

Responding to a question on flight restrictions to South Africa and Brazil: “India doesn’t have many direct flights to South Africa and Brazil, and we will discuss and announce any preventive measures..”

ICMR head Dr. Balram Bhargava:

“India has been able to culture the U.K. strain.

“South Africa strain has been detected in 4 returnees in India in January. Brazil variant of the virus has been isolated in ICMR-National Institute of Virology, Pune. One another case detected in February.”

““Vaccination has no contraindication for use in persons using aspirin/blood thinners.”

Niti Aayog member V.K. Paul:

“70% Indian population is still vulnerable. Vigil to contain this virus must continue.

“24 countries have been sent vaccinations from India.

“We still don’t fully understand the virus so we have to be serious about vaccination and COVID-19’s appropriate behaviour.

“Vaccination doesn’t affect fertility in any manner.”


103 COVID cases at Bommanahalli apartment

The number of COVID-19 positive cases at the SNN Raj Lake View Apartment in Bommanahalli, that has emerged as a cluster, has now shot up to 103. It was 28 on Monday.

“All 1058 residents of the apartment complex have been tested and the results are out now. 103 have tested positive,” Civic Commissioner N. Manjunath Prasad said on Tuesday.

Significantly, over 90 of these patients are over 60 years of age. However, many of them are asymptomatic, he added. The commissioner said the situation was being constantly monitored and all necessary medical care was being provided. “It is under control now,” he said.


Classes six to eight to reopen in Karnataka barring few districts

Classes six to eight will reopen in Karnataka from February 22. However, in Bengaluru Urban and districts adjoining Kerala, only class eight will be reopened.

This announcement was made by Primary and Secondary Education Minister S. Suresh Kumar on Monday. The decision he said was taken after consultation with COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC). Schools in Karnataka have reopened in a phase wise manner from January 1 and currently classes nine to second year pre-university classes have reopened.


New cases fall below 10,000 for fourth time in February

The daily new infections fell below 10,000 for the fourth time this month taking India’s tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,09,25,710, while fresh fatalities remained below 100 for the tenth time this month, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on February 16.

A total of 9,121 new cases were reported in a day, while the death toll increased to 1,55,813 with 81 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,06,33, 025 which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 97.32%, while the COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.43%.

The COVID-19 active caseload remained below 1.5 lakh.


India’s dramatic fall in virus cases leaves experts stumped

When the coronavirus pandemic took hold in India, there were fears it would sink the fragile health system of the world’s second-most populous country. Infections climbed dramatically for months and at one point India looked like it might overtake the United States as the country with the highest case toll.

But infections began to plummet in September, and now the country is reporting about 11,000 new cases a day, compared to a peak of nearly 100,000, leaving experts perplexed.

They have suggested many possible explanations for the sudden drop — seen in almost every region — including that some areas of the country may have reached herd immunity or that Indians may have some preexisting protection from the virus.

The Indian government has also partly attributed the dip in cases to mask-wearing, which is mandatory in public in India and violations draw hefty fines in some cities. But experts have noted the situation is more complicated since the decline is uniform even though mask compliance is flagging in some areas. – AP


South Africa asks Serum Institute to take back 1 million vaccine doses

South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back the one million COVID-19 vaccine doses the company had sent in early February, The Economic Times reported on Tuesday, a week after the country said it will put on hold use of AstraZeneca’s shot in its vaccination program.

Serum Institute of India, which is producing AstraZeneca’s shot, has emerged as a key vaccine supplier. One million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine landed in South Africa last week and another 500,000 were due to arrive in the next few weeks.

South Africa’s health minister has said the government may sell doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, after the country paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country.


Tamil Nadu

T.N. poll officials to be included in priority group for vaccination

With Tamil Nadu all set to go to the polls in a few months, government officials involved in election work would now be included in the priority group of frontline workers for COVID-19 vaccination.

Health Secretary J. Radhakrishnan on Monday said the officials who were to be deployed for election work would be regarded as frontline workers.




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