National News

Coronavirus India lockdown Day 206 updates | No evidence to validate China’s claim on global multiple focal points for outbreak: Vardhan


Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 400,000 for the first time late on Friday, a record one-day increase as much of Europe enacts new restrictions to curb the outbreak.

Europe, which successfully tamped down the first surge of infections, has emerged as the new coronavirus epicentre in recent weeks and is reporting on average 140,000 cases a day over the past week. As a region, Europe is reporting more daily cases than India, Brazil and the United States combined.

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:



No evidence to validate claims on global multiple focal points for COVID-19 outbreak: Vardhan

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday said there is no evidence that can validate claims on global multiple focal points for the COVID-19 outbreak, amid China claiming that the coronavirus broke out simultaneously in several countries last year.

During an interaction with his social media followers on the sixth episode of “Sunday Samvaad”, Mr. Vardhan said the reported outbreak of COVID-19 from Wuhan in China remains recognised as the first report worldwide.

Responding to a question, he said China has claimed that there was a simultaneous outbreak of the disease across many nations.

“However, to validate this claim that there were multiple focal points across the world requires data of uniform and timely reporting of the occurrence of confirmed and diagnosed cases from various countries at the very same time. No such clinching evidence is as yet available regarding this. Therefore, the reported outbreak of COVID-19 from Wuhan in China has been recognised as the first report worldwide,” the minister said.

Responding to another question on the market being flooded with oximeters made in China, he said, “Consumers should look for FDA or CE-approved products with ISO or IEC specifications while purchasing a pulse oximeter from the market or from online retailers.”

However, he made it clear that a dip in the oxygen saturation level is not a COVID-19 symptom, as it may happen due to other underlying medical conditions as well.

Mr. Vardhan further said as yet, no mutation of the coronavirus has been detected in India, which is either more transmission efficient or more pathogenic.

In response to another question, the minister said although there are no intranasal COVID-19 vaccines under trial in the country at the moment, Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are expected to pursue clinical trials of such vaccines in the coming months on receiving the regulatory approval.

He clarified that the phase-3 clinical trial is generally with thousands of participants, sometimes even close to 30,000 to 40,000. It is possible that from a specific city or hospital, a couple of hundred participants are selected at a given time, but in general, the overall phase-3 participant pool is much larger.

Sharing details of the special Drive for Adverse Drug Reaction (ADR) reporting and monitoring of drugs used in COVID-19, Mr. Vardhan clarified that the drive is not because of an adverse reaction reported with an existing drug, but is part of a proactive COVID-19 preparedness programme.



Visuals of crowded Goa night clubs: Minister promises action

looded social media amid the coronavirus outbreak.

He said he would meet Chief Minister Pramod Sawant later in the day to discuss the issue, adding that district administration would be instructed to cancel the licenses of the clubs which have violated social distancing norms in this manner.


New Delhi

Pollution may increase virus transmissibility making people more vulnerable to COVID-19, say experts

Air pollution may increase transmissibility of the novel coronavirus making people more vulnerable to the disease and aggravating the COVID-19 situation, experts have said, while warning that those who have had the infection in the past may also have to face new challenges.

With winters approaching and easing of the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Delhi-NCR is bracing for months of poor air quality. The national capital’s air quality was in the ‘poor’ category on Sunday morning.

According to doctors, respiratory illnesses like viral influenza increase with a spike in pollution levels as poor air quality leads to inflammation in the lungs making it more vulnerable for the virus to penetrate.

“This year, we have COVID-19. Like the common cold, the transmission of this virus is expected to increase with a rise in pollution levels. We may see a further surge in cases.

“It would be a taxing time for testing centres as they have to cater to people with coronavirus and also non-COVID patients with similar symptoms,” Dr Neeraj Nischal, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at AIIMS, told PTI. Experts feel the worst-affected would be people in the lower socioeconomic class with no access to masks and also vulnerable to additional risk factors such as chulla smoke.

“Transmission apart, the presentation of COVID-19 like other viral respiratory illnesses will be more severe in high-pollution areas. This will burden hospitals as more patients become symptomatic, requiring admission,” Dr Nischal said. According to Dr Neeraj Gupta, a professor in the Department of Pulmonary, Critical care and Sleep medicine at Safdarjung Hospital, mortality has been linked with population density, the proximity of people and heavily industrialized or urbanised areas which have higher pollution levels.



Possibility of second wave of coronavirus infections in winter season cannot be ruled out: Expert panel chief V.K. Paul

The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths have declined in the last three weeks as the spread of the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states, Niti Aayog Member V.K. Paul said on Sunday but did not rule out the possibility of a second wave of infections in the winter season.

Mr. Paul, who is also the chief of an expert coordinating efforts to tackle the pandemic in the country, in an interview to PTI said that once the COVID-19 vaccine is available, there will be enough resources to deliver as well as make it accessible to the citizens.

“In India, the new coronavirus cases and number of deaths have declined in the last three weeks and the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states.”

“However, there are five states (Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal) and 3-4 Union Territories (UTs), where there is still a rising trend,” Mr. Paul said.

He is heading the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

According to him, India is in a somewhat better position now but the country still has a long way to go because 90 per cent of the people are still susceptible to coronavirus infections.

On whether India could see a second wave of coronavirus infections in the winter, Mr. Paul said that with the onset of winter, countries across Europe are seeing resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

“We cannot rule out (a second coronavirus wave this winter in India). Things can happen and we are still learning about the virus,” Mr. Paul noted.

To a query about storage and distribution of vaccine once it is available, he said India has enough cold storage facilities to an extent and this can be readily augmented as required.

“Once the vaccine is available, there will be enough resources for delivering vaccines and making vaccines accessible to the citizens and there will be no concern about resources under those circumstances,” Mr. Paul said.



Infection control measures stepped up as more health workers test positive

A total of 700 health workers have been infected in the district so far, in a nearly six-fold jump from mid-August when 110 health workers had cumulatively tested positive for the coronavirus.

According to health officials and infection control officers at hospitals in the district, the extent of the spread of the virus in the community has made it nearly impossible to ascertain if health workers have contracted the infection from within the health-care facility or outside.

Attempts, however, have been made to strengthen infection control measures both in government and private facilities.



Living coronavirus found on imported frozen food packaging in China

China’s health authority has confirmed the detection and isolation of living novel coronavirus on the outer packaging of imported frozen marine fish the port city of Qingdao.

It is for the first time in the world that living novel coronavirus has been isolated from the outer packaging of cold-chain food, the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a statement on Saturday.

In July, China suspended imports of frozen shrimp after the deadly virus was found on packages and the inner wall of a container.


India COVID tally

61,871 new infections, 1,033 more fatalities in country

India’s COVID-19 caseload mounted to 74,94,551 with 61,871 new infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries surged to 65,97,209 pushing the recovery rate to 88.03%, according to the Health Ministry data updated on Sunday.

The coronavirus death toll climbed to 1,14,031 with the virus claiming 1,033 lives in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The number of active cases of coronavirus infection remained below 8 lakh for the second consecutive day. There are 7,83,311 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country which comprise 10.45% of the total caseload, the data stated. The COVID-19 case fatality rate stands at 1.52%. – PTI


Mumbai airport offers express RTPCR tests for passengers

Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) has introduced its express COVID-19 RT-PCR test facility for all passengers departing from the airport.

This facility is also available for non-passengers visiting the airport to drop off or collect their loved ones.

“This initiative addresses passenger concerns regarding the different COVID-19 regulations across domestic and international destinations,” Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), the airport operator said in a statement.


Despite a drop in tests, fresh cases in Kerala edge past 9,000

Kerala reported 9,016 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday from 52,067 samples.

The test positivity rate stood at 17.31%, higher than the 14.05% of the previous day. After testing 73,816 samples on October 7, the highest number, subsequent days showed testing drop to 38,259 samples on October 12. Samples tested in a daybarely went above 50,000, since then. The sudden drop in testing has been attributed to technical glitches in the new Lab Diagnosis and Management System.

The total samples tested in a day, as given out by the Health department, does not specify daily tests carried out daily to detect new cases. Since the total samples includes repeat samples and antigen tests done prior to discharging patients (on average, 7,500-8,000 a day), actual samples tested to detect new infections daily were described as likely lower than the claimed figure.


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