Early on Sunday, the United States authorities cleared a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that works with just one dose instead of two.
The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalisations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents — protection that remained strong even in countries such as South Africa, where the variants of most concern are spreading.
Here are the latest updates:
Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa
Punjab minister found positive by State health department, tests negative at PGIMER
A day after his COVID-19 test by the state health department came back positive, Punjab Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa tested negative for the disease at PGIMER here on Sunday, leaving him “surprised”.
A test at a private lab also found the minister negative for the contagion.
It is mandatory for all MLAs and concerned Punjab Assembly officials to get themselves tested for COVID-19 ahead of the Budget Session starting from Monday. – PTI
Maha COVID-19 surge: Curfew in Hingoli from March 1 to 7
In the wake of a rise in daily COVID-19 cases in Hingoli, the local administration has decide to impose curfew in the district from March 1 to 7.
A total of 46 new COVID-19 cases were found on Saturday in Hingoli, located in the state’s Marathwada region, raising its tally to 4,083, as per official figures.
Hingoli Collector Ruchesh Jayvanshi in an order issued on Saturday evening said the curfew will come into force from 7 am on Monday and continue till March 7 midnight.
Schools, colleges, religious places and function halls shall remain closed during the period, while banks will operate only for administrative work, said the order. – PTI
Philippines to receive COVID-19 vaccine after delays
The Philippines is due to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine Sunday, among the last in Southeast Asia to secure the critical doses despite having the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and deaths in the hard-hit region.
President Rodrigo Duterte and top Cabinet officials will welcome the arrival of 600,000 doses of China-donated vaccine in a ceremony at an air base in the capital that will underscore their relief after weeks of delays, officials said. Vaccinations initially for health workers are scheduled to start Monday.
Aside from the donated vaccine from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has separately ordered 25 million doses from the China-based company. An initial 525,600 doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca were also scheduled to arrive Monday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said. – AP
Kerala dismisses report
Kerala dismisses reports on excluding private hospitals from 2nd phase vaccination
As the country gears up for the second phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive from Monday, the Kerala government has dismissed reports that private hospitals were excluded from the programme and said steps have been taken to ensure their cooperation which is “essential” for the initiative.
State Health Department officials here said preparations have been completed in around 300 private hospitals for the drive and the ongoing propaganda that private hospitals were not part of the second phase of the vaccination was “baseless”.
The details of those private hospitals, taking part in the government programme, can be available in the website http:ha.kerala.gov.in/list-of-empanelled-hospitals, they said.
“The participation of the private hospitals is essential for the time-bound and safe vaccination. Seeking to coordinate the activities related to the immunisation programme at the private hospitals, several meetings have been conducted under the aegis of senior health department officials at the district level,” an official statement said.
Several private medical facilities have come forward to cooperate with the vaccination drive and its follow-up measures would be taken as per the guidelines of the Centre, it added.
Education budgets cut: WB report
65 % low, lower-middle income countries slashed education budgets after COVID-19 outbreak: Report
Education budgets were cut by 65 % of low and lower-middle income countries after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic while only 33 % of high and upper-middle income countries did so, according to a report by the World Bank.
The report, compiled in collaboration with UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, said the current levels of government spending in low and lower-middle income countries fall short of those required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“In order to understand the short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education budgets, information was collected for a sample of 29 countries across all regions. The sample represents about 54 % of the world’s school and university aged population. The information collected was then verified with World Bank country teams,” the report said. – PTI
Arunachal turns coronavirus-free
Active case count hits zero, Arunachal turns coronavirus-free
Arunachal Pradesh became a coronavirus-free state on Sunday with the three active cases recovering from the disease, a senior health official said.
The total caseload in the northeastern state remained at 16,836, while the number of recoveries stood at 16,780, State Surveillance Officer Lobsang Jampa said.
No fresh COVID-19 case was reported in the past 24 hours, he said, A total of 56 people have so far died due to the contagion in the state.
Arunachal Pradesh’s recovery rate and positivity rate are at 99.66 per cent and zero per cent, respectively, the official said.
Altogether, 4,05,647 samples have been tested, including 312 on Saturday, Jampa said.
Meanwhile, State Immunisation Officer (SIO) Dimong Padung said 32,325 health and frontline workers have received vaccine shots in the state thus far.
The health department has been carrying out the inoculation drive four days a week – Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Odisha issues guidelines
Odisha allows operas & open air theatres with a ceiling
The Odisha government has allowed holding of operas and shows in open air theatres subject to a ceiling of 2,000 persons, in its March guideline issued to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The government has also allowed social congregations on the occasion of marriage and funeral with a maximum of 500 persons with adherence to the COVID-19 safety measures. The local authorities will verify whether the COVID safety measures are being followed.
Seeking permission of the local authorities will be mandatory for organizers to hold marriage, large gatherings, social, and religious functions and jatra shows, the order issued by the Special Relief Commissioner said.
Also, District Collectors and Municipal Commissioners were directed to demarcate the containment zones in accordance with the guidelines of MoHFW, Government of India and H&FW Department of the Government of Odisha.
The SRC office issued the detailed guidelines for the month of March where it is mentioned that the Containment Zones will be notified by the respective District Collectors/ Municipal Commissioners and information will be shared with MOHFW. The notification shall be uploaded by the District Collector and by the State on their websites.
India records 16,752 fresh COVID-19 cases, biggest single-day jump in 30 days
India’s COVID-19 tally climbed to 1,10,96,731 on Sunday with 16,752 new infections, the highest in the last 30 days, according to Union health ministry data.
The death toll mounted to 1,57,051 with 113 fresh fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.
The country had recorded 18,855 new infections on January 29.
The active caseload further increased to 1,64,511. It constitutes 1.48% of the total infections, the data stated.
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,07,75,169, which translates to a national COVID-19 recovery rate of 97.10%. The case fatality rate stands at 1.42%. – PTI
Odisha makes home isolation must for people coming from 5 States
The Odisha government has said that a week-long home isolation will be mandatory for people coming to the State by plane or train from five high-risk States, modifying its previous order of imposing the precautionary measures to those arriving from 12 States.
The five high-risk States are Maharashtra, Kerala, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, P.K. Mohapatra said. – PTI
Those above 60 can get vaccine from tomorrow
The Health Department has arranged to administer vaccines to members of the public aged above 60 and those over 45 with co-morbidities beginning March 1.
People may register in advance or walk-in for onsite registration at COVID Vaccination Centres.
The State government will be introducing the COWIN 2.0 app, in addition to self-registration based on Aadhaar or government issued ID cards such as voters ID, driving licence, PAN card or pension document with photograph. Vaccination will be administered free of cost in government healthcare facilities.
No new COVID-19 cases in Dharmapuri, Kallakurichi
As many as 486 persons tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, taking the total number of cases in Tamil Nadu to 8,51,063. A total of 4,036 persons are undergoing treatment.
Among the fresh cases was that of a passenger returning from the UAE who tested positive at the international airport. A passenger each returning from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal by road tested positive.
At the same time, 491 persons were discharged in the past 24 hours. With this, 8,34,534 persons have been discharged after treatment.
Is the recent spike in COVID-19 infections indicative of a ‘second wave’?
Globally, nations in Europe that witnessed a spike in May 2020 have slowly started emerging out of the grip of COVID-19. As the number of cases dropped, countries also let their guard down, opened up the economy, and resumed travel and near-normal activity.
In November, the second wave struck. Experts said every country in Europe that had managed to get away lightly with the first wave was nearly crippled by the second one.
After infections peaked in September last year, cases across the country had been steadily declining, with the exception of Kerala, an outlier State that continued to see high numbers after having seen initial success in flattening the curve. However, in the last week of February this year, the trend reversed, with some States beginning to report higher numbers.