Prime Minister Narendra Modi will likely inaugurate the country’s vaccination drive against the coronavirus through video conferencing, sources said. The inoculation campaign, billed as the world’s largest, is scheduled to start from January 16.
PM Modi will likely virtually interact with health workers at some locations on the day of the launch of the vaccine drive, sources said, adding select hospitals in states like Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi have been asked to make preparations.
Health and frontline workers at Delhi’s Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Narayan Hospital – one of the country’s biggest Covid hospitals – will get vaccinated first. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and minister Satyendar Jain will attend the inaugural event.
The country’s drug regulator has approved Covishield, the Oxford vaccine being manufactured by Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech’s homegrown Covaxin for restricted emergency use.
India’s COVID-19 caseload increased to 1,04,95,147 with 15,968 infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries have surged to 1,01,29,111 pushing the national recovery rate to 96.51 per cent, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The deaths increased to 1,51,529 with 202 daily new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.
Meanwhile, the North and South Delhi Municipal Corporations have banned the sale of chicken in their respective regions, following confirmation of bird flu cases in the national capital. The civic bodies also warned hotels and restaurants of action if they served egg-based dishes or poultry meat.
Here are the LIVE updates:
Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Wednesday said that over crores of farmers have been linked to Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and claims of Rs 90,000 crore have been settled under in five years from 2014.
“In this largest agriculture insurance scheme of the world, farmers have got Rs 90,000 crore in claims,” he said.
Mr Tomar said crop insurance is “suraksha kavach (security shield)” for farmers from crop losses due to natural disasters.
He said success achieved in completing a five-year journey of the scheme has yielded many experiences.
“We all know the importance of agriculture in our country. Agriculture provides employment to almost half of the country’s population. There was a time when we used to worry about food. There was a time when we used to be concerned about foodgrains, but with the farmer-friendly policies of the government, hard work of the farmers and research of our agricultural scientists, today our concern is not about production but how to manage the production,” Mr Tomar said.
A massive fire broke out in north Kolkata’s Baghbazar area this evening. 25 fire engines are at the spot trying to bring the fire under control which broke out at a slum in the area.
Scores of shanties have been damaged in the fire that broke out near Baghbazar’s Women’s College. Explosions have been occuring hours after the fire started. The wind has made the situation worse.
No one has been injured yet. The fire is still blazing 1.5 hours after it started.
The Rapid Action Force has also been deployed at the spot. Efforts are on to control the blaze.
Delhi Police personnel who are above 50 years of age will be on priority list for getting the COVID-19 vaccination, an official said on Wednesday.
“The force has a strength of over 80,000 personnel and they have registered themselves for the vaccination. The date, time and place of vaccination for each police personnel will be intimated to him/her on their mobile number,” Special Commissioner of Police, Operations and Licensing, Muktesh Chander said.
“Personnel who are above 50 years will be in priority list for the vaccination,” he said.
The first batch of Covishield vaccine containing 2.64 lakh doses reached Delhi”s central storage facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Tuesday.
A SpiceJet flight carrying the vials landed at the Delhi airport around 10 am on Tuesday, four days ahead of the launch of a nationwide drive against the coronavirus.
In view of on-going farmers’ agitation in Punjab, the railway has cancelled, short-terminated and diverted several trains for January 13 and 14.
The 05211 Darbhanga- Amritsar special train journey commencing on 14.01.2021 will remain cancelled. Consequently, the 05212 Amritsar-Darbhanga special JCO 16.01.2021 will also remain cancelled.
The 05211 Darbhanga to Amritsar special train scheduled for January 14 stands cancelled. Consequently, the 05212 Amritsar to Darbhanga special which was to commence its journey on January 16 also stands cancelled.
The 02715 Nanded to Amritsar express train journey commencing on January 14 will be short terminated at Chandigarh. Subsequently, the 02716 Amritsar to Nanded will short originate from Chandigarh and remain partially cancelled between Chandigarh-Amritsar-Chandigarh.
The 02903 Mumbai Central to Amritsar Express special Journey commencing on 13.01.21 will be diverted to run via Beas-Tarntaran-Amritsar.
The 02904 Amritsar to Mumbai Central Express special train’s journey commencing on 14.01.21 will be diverted to run via Amritsar- Tarntaran-Beas.
The 02925 Bandra Terminus to Amritsar Express special train journey commencing on 14.01.21 will be diverted to run via Beas-Tarntaran-Amritsar.
The 02926 Amritsar to Bandra Terminus Express special train journey commencing on 14.01.21 will be diverted to run via Amritsar- Tarntaran-Beas.
The 08309 Sambalpur to Jammu Tawi Express special train journey commencing on 14.01.21 will be diverted to run via Ludhiana-Jalandhar Cantt-Pathankot Cantt.
Two peacocks were found dead in a jungle in Uttar Pradesh”s Fatehpur district on Wednesday, officials said, ruling out avian influenza as cause of death.
The carcasses of the peacocks were found in the Merai village area in the afternoon, DFO PN Rai said.
Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rajendra Kumar Sharma said as per the postmortem report, the birds died due to cold.
Symptoms of bird flu have not been found in the dead peacocks, he said.
Uttar Pradesh is one of the 10 states and union territories in the country that has reported cases of avian influenza.
The animal husbandry department has formed five teams to monitor the situation in the district, the official said.
Sharma said that a ban has been imposed on bringing in poultry products into the district till January 24.
Birds at poultry farms in the district are being checked regularly, he said and appealed to the people not to touch any dead bird, news agency PTI reported.
The Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to put on hold three recently-legislated Central farm laws may have set a dangerous precedent whose implications will mostly show up only in future, legal experts believe. While the top court was well within its rights to “stay” laws passed by Parliament, what could be a matter of concern is that it may have come to conclusions based on “misconceived emotions”.
The government has been negotiating with unions representing thousands of farmers, especially from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and other states of India over the three laws passed in September.
While several of the issues have been discussed and solutions to these mostly agreed upon, it is the issue of withdrawal of laws that neither party is willing to give in on, leading to a deadlock.
Such a deadlock becoming a reason for judicial intervention, let alone the holding in abeyance of laws passed by Parliament, may turn out to be problematic, according to experts.
The union cabinet, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the purchase of 73 Tejas LCA fighter jets and 10 trainer aircraft for a cost of ₹ 45.7 crore.
The Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft is an indigenously designed and manufactured fourth-generation fighter with critical operational capabilities that include an Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, an Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and is capable of air-to-air refuelling (AAR).
Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday received the first consignment of 1.46 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccine from Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), officials said.
While 79,000 doses were received here for vaccination of nearly 60,000 healthcare workers in the Kashmir valley, 67,500 vaccines have been received in the Jammu division, they said.
The officials said the vaccination will begin on Saturday at 30 centres across the union territory.
“To begin with, inauguration ceremonies will be held at SKIMS hospital Soura in Srinagar and Government Medical College Jammu, where Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha will be present,” they said.
Besides these two, there are 14 immunisation centres each in the Kashmir valley and the Jammu division.
The officials said in the first phase, healthcare workers across the union territory will be given shots while frontline workers will be covered in the second phase.
Jammu and Kashmir has recorded over 1,22,700 cases of coronavirus so far while the death count due to the epidemic has reached 1,912. The number of active cases is around 2,000.
The coronavirus mutation first found in Britain has now spread to 50 territories, according to the World Health Organization, while a similar South African-identified strain has now been found in 20.
The UN body also noted a third new coronavirus “variant of concern” found in Japan may impact upon immune response and needs further investigation.
“The more the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads, the more opportunities it has to change. High levels of transmission mean that we should expect more variants to emerge,” said the WHO.
SARS-CoV-2 is the virus which causes Covid-19 disease.
Since first being reported to the WHO on December 14, the British-identified variant VOC 202012/01 has been found in 50 countries, territories and areas, the agency said.
Test results showed the age and sex distribution was similar to that of other circulating variants, while contact tracing data revealed “higher transmissibility (secondary attack rates) where the index case has the variant strain”.
The South African-identified variant 501Y.V2, first reported on December 18, has now been detected in 20 countries, territories and areas.
The Morena hooch tragedy has claimed 21 lives in Madhya Pradesh where seven more people died on Wednesday, days after falling sick because of consuming spurious liquor, the police said.
Taking serious note of the incident in the Manpur Prithwi and Pahawali villages of Morena district, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan ordered transfer of the area collector and superintendent of police.
In future, the collector and superintendent of police would be held directly responsible for such incidents, Mr Chouhan said. He has also ordered “a campaign against illegal liquor sale in the state” to prevent such tragedies.
The local station house officer was also suspended earlier.
The death count shot to 21 on Wednesday as seven more people died after consumption of spurious liquor in Morena, a senior police officer confirmed, adding that at least 17 more people are being treated for alcohol poisoning in Morena and Gwalior district hospitals.
The first consignment of 56,500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine arrived here on Wednesday in a cargo flight of a private carrier, an official said.
The containers of the vaccine were shipped from Pune’s Serum Institute and ferried to a special storage unit here from the city airport, he said.
“The consignment of 56,500 doses of Covishield vaccine arrived at the Agartala airport in the morning. The vaccine containers were transported to a National Health Mission (NHM) storage facility at Gorkhabasti area,” State Immunization Officer Kallol Roy told reporters in Agartala.
The health department authorities have already started distribution of the vaccine doses to all the eight district headquarters of the state, he said.
“We will send the vaccine vials to primary health centres and sub-divisional medical facilities from tomorrow,” he said.
Farmers in Punjab on Wednesday burnt copies of the Centre’s three new farm laws at several places on Lohri as a mark of protest against the legislations.
The harvest festival of Lohri is celebrated in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of north India. Bonfires are an important part of the festivities.
Protesting farmers owing allegiance to different farm bodies held protest at many places in the state and burnt copies of new agriculture laws.
Farmers also shouted slogans against the BJP-led Centre and slammed the government for not acceding to their demands. They demanded that the new farms laws should be repealed.
Farmers including women under the banner of Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee held a protest at Pandherkalan village in Amritsar.
“We burnt the copies of the farm laws as a mark of protest against these legislations,” said committee’s general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher in Amritsar.
The North and South Delhi Municipal Corporations have banned the sale of chicken in their respective regions, following confirmation of bird flu cases in the national capital. The civic bodies also warned hotels and restaurants of action if they served egg-based dishes or poultry meat.
Earlier today the Delhi Health Department issued an advisory asking people not to panic and follow a set of dos and don’ts, including not consuming half-cooked chicken, half-boiled or half-fried eggs.
In the wake of the bird flu scare, Thane Collector Rajesh Narvekar has instructed the forest department to pay special attention to wetland areas for migration of birds in the district.
Seven rapid response teams have been deployed in the district and a control room has been activated to monitor the bird flu situation, he said during a review meeting with senior officials on Tuesday.
If crows, parrots, herons or migratory birds are found dead, the authorities should be informed immediately, he said.
Also, if more deaths than usual are observed among birds in a commercial poultry farm, the nearest veterinary clinic should be informed immediately, a release said quoting Mr Narvekar.
Avian influenza has been confirmed as the cause of the death of different birds in Parbhani, Mumbai, Thane and some other places in Maharashtra.
The first consignment of 64,460 doses of Covishield vaccine reached the storage facility in Aurangabad in Marathwada region of Maharashtra on Wednesday, officials said.
This storage facility will cater to districts of Jalna, Hingoli, and Parbhani, besides Aurangabad, an official told PTI.
“We have received 64,460 doses of the vaccine from the SII in Pune. (Some) Doses were dispatched to Jalna, Hingoli and Parbhani from Aurangabad,” he said, adding that a refrigerated van has left for Latur.
The vaccine doses were stored at the Health and Family Welfare department’s building in Aurangabad.
“The central storage unit in Aurangabad currently has the capacity to store 10 lakh doses of vaccines. We are planning to double this capacity soon,” the official said.
Aurangabad district collector Sunil Chavan told reporters that vaccination will begin at 18 centers here from January 16.
A unit of Sinovac Biotech could double annual production capacity of its CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine to 1 billion doses by February, the group’s chairman said on Wednesday.
More than 7 million doses of CoronaVac vaccine, one of the three China has included in its emergency vaccination programme, have so far been supplied to regions including the city of Beijing and Guangdong province, Sinovac Biotech Chairman Yin Weidong told a news conference.
While the first phase of Sinovac Life Sciences’ existing production line can make 500 million CoronaVac doses in one year, another with annual capacity of 500 million doses could become operational by February, Yin said.
Amid the spreading scare of bird flu across many parts of the country and in the state, Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar on Tuesday said that the state government is on alert to deal with the situation that may arise in coming days.
While talking to the media, Mr Kedar said that culling has been started in Maharashtra’s Parbhani district after bird flu has been confirmed as the cause of death of around 800 hens in the last few days at a poultry farm there.
“We are alert to deal with the situation that may arise in the coming days. We had a meeting with Chief Minister with all the District Collectors. The Forest Department and Animal husbandry department are working together with the district administration. We are having a close watch on all the development in this regard,” Mr Kedar told media.
The second consignment of 1.47 lakh doses of COVID-19 vaccines arrived here on Wednesday from the Pune-based Serum Institute, a health official said. The first consignment of about 6.48 lakh doses of Covishield vaccines had reached Bengaluru on Tuesday.
Speaking to reporters here, the District Health Officer Dr Shashikant Munyal said the vaccine stock is meant for distribution in eight districts.
“Vaccine doses were packed in 14,700 bottles.. Each bottle covers 10 dose units and will be administered twice, whereas the second dose will be given after 28 days. After administering the dose, each person will be observed for three hours and will be discharged if no side effects are noticed,” Munyal said.
Odisha’s COVID-19 tally mounted to 3,32,541 on Wednesday as 210 more people tested positive for infection, while one fresh fatality pushed the state’s coronavirus deaths to 1,895, a health official said.
As many as 122 new cases were reported in quarantine centres, while 88 infections were detected during contact tracing, he said. Sundergarh district reported the highest number of new cases at 30, followed by Angul (24) and Sambalpur (16), the official said.
“Regret to inform the demise of a 70-year-old male COVID positive patient of Bhubaneswar who was also suffering from Diabetes Mellitus & Hypertension,” the health department tweeted.
Gujarat police have collected fines worth Rs 3.63 crore between January 8 and 11 from people violating the mask rule for COVID-19 prevention and those spitting in public, officials said on Wednesday. The fine for not wearing a mask in public places in the state is Rs 1,000.
On an average, around 9,000 people were fined every day from January 8 to 11 for the COVID-19 related violations in Gujarat, the state police said in a release.
“A penalty of Rs 3.63 crore was collected in the four days from 36,510 people who were found moving out without mask or spitting in public,” the police said.
Amid the bird flu situation in the national capital, North Delhi Mayor Jai Prakash on Tuesday inspected the Naini Lake in Model Town area to take stock of the situation.
Prakash said that samples of birds have also been taken from the Naini Lake, and the report is awaited. He said all ducks there seemed to be in good condition, while the migratory birds have already left.
Three big gardens come under the jurisdiction of North Delhi Municipal Corporation, and authorities are keeping an eye on the situation, and if birds are found dead, their samples will be taken.
During the inspection, area councillor Seema Gupta, Director Horticulture Aashish Priyadarshi and other senior officials were also present.
Japan is set to expand a coronavirus state of emergency on Wednesday to seven more regions including the major cities of Osaka and Kyoto, as infections surge nationwide.
While the country’s outbreak remains comparatively small, with around 4,100 deaths overall, there has been a sharp spike in cases this winter and medics say hospitals are under heavy strain in the worst-affected areas.
The month-long emergency measure — which unlike strict lockdowns elsewhere in the world carries no enforcement mechanism — was implemented in the greater Tokyo area last week.
It asks restaurants and bars to close by 8 pm, with residents requested to avoid unnecessary outings and telework strongly encouraged
The Health Ministry says 102 total cases of UK mutant strain in India
With four new COVID-19 cases reported in Mizoram, the total caseload in the state reached 4,303 on Wednesday, informed the Department of Information and Public Relations (DIPR), Mizoram.
As per state government data, 4,200 people have been discharged in the state after recovering from the infection. There are 94 active cases in the state, while the death toll due to the virus stands at 9.
The three new cases were confirmed through the TrueNat test, and one case reported by Rapid Antigen Test.
The first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination drive is scheduled to start from January 16.
With the addition of 355 new cases of coronavirus, the infection count in Maharashtra’s Thane district has reached 2,47,757, an official said on Wednesday.
Five more people also died due to the viral infection on Tuesday, raising the death toll in the district to 6,038, the official said.
As of now, the COVID-19 mortality rate in the district stands at 2.44 per cent, he said. So far, 2,37,659 patients have recovered from the infection, taking the COVID-19 recovery rate in the district to 95.92 per cent.
The first consignment of 23,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine reached Goa from Mumbai on Wednesday morning, a state health official said. The vaccine doses were transported to the coastal state by a flight.
Goa Health Services Director Jose D’Sa told PTI that two boxes comprising 23,500 doses of the Covishield vaccine were received in the morning.
“The first lot of COVID-19 vaccine for Goa has reached today early morning at 0622 hrs. The two boxes received were expeditiously cleared by TEAM GOA and handed over to Health Services officials,” the Goa Airport said in a tweet.
Goa has geared up for the immunisation programme set to begin from January 16. Around 18,000 health workers in the state will be covered during the initial phase, another health official said.
China has recorded the biggest daily jump in COVID cases in more than five months, despite four cities in lockdown, increased testing and other measures aimed at preventing another wave of infections in the world’s second biggest economy.
Most of the new patients were reported near the capital Beijing, but a province in northeast China also saw a rise in new cases, official data showed on Wednesday, amid a resurgence that has seen more than 28 million people under home quarantine.
The National Health Commission said in a statement that a total of 115 new confirmed cases were reported in the mainland compared with 55 a day earlier.
Maharashtra has received over 9 lakh lakhs doses of COVID-19 vaccine ”Covishield” from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
“A total of 9.63 lakh doses have been received for Maharashtra from Serum Institute of India. All doses were received by the health department at Pune on Tuesday night and from there they were distributed to different cities and districts of Maharashtra,” said the state health department.
The National Cold Chain Centre, Pune is the center point for Maharashtra where vaccines will be stored and then being distributed to different districts and Municipal Corporations by the health department, the department said.
The first consignment of 1,39,500 doses of Covishield vaccine arrived in Mumbai, earlier this morning.
The vaccine was brought to Mumbai from Pune in a special vehicle of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
A Chinese province of more than 37 million declared an “emergency state” on Wednesday to snuff out a handful of Covid-19 cases, as the country moved decisively to contain infections.
China had largely brought the coronavirus under control since its emergence in Wuhan late in 2019.
But recent weeks have seen smatterings of cases, prompting localised lockdowns, immediate travel restrictions and widespread testing of tens of millions of people.
More than 20 million are now under some form of lockdown in the country’s northern regions.
COVID-19 vaccine transportation from Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) commenced on Wednesday with budget carrier GoAir airlifting 2,400 vials of Covishield to Goa.
The Wadia Group-owned no-frills airline has scheduled flights carrying vaccines to Lucknow, Cochin and Chandigarh as well, besides Goa, during the day, a GoAir spokesperson told PTI.
GoAir’s first flight carrying 2,400 vials (24,000 doses) of Covishield vaccine took off at 5.20 am and reached Goa at 6.30 am, the spokesperson said.
A massive pan-India inoculation drive against COVID-19 was set in process on Tuesday with more than 56 lakh doses of the Covishield vaccine leaving Pune for 13 cities across the country, four days before the vaccinations are scheduled to begin on January 16.
Brazil registered 1,110 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the national deaths to 204,690, the Ministry of Health announced on Tuesday.
The country confirmed 64,025 new cases, taking the nationwide count to 8,195,637, it added.
The state of Sao Paulo, the most populous in the country and also the most affected area, reported 1,561,844 cases and 48,662 deaths in total, followed by Rio de Janeiro, with 465,150 cases and 26,976 deaths from the virus.
The Delhi Police has made adequate security arrangements in the city for the smooth transportation of COVID-19 vaccines when the countrywide vaccination roll-out will begin later this week, officials said on Tuesday.
The first batch of Covishield vaccine containing 2.64 lakh doses reached Delhi”s central storage facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Tuesday amid high security, they said.
Special Commissioner of Police (Operations and Licensing) Muktesh Chander said the security force ensured smooth transportation of vaccines from the airport to RGSSH where adequate police arrangements have been made.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy on Tuesday that he had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to allow political party leaders, ministers and legislators to be vaccinated in the first phase of the nationwide inoculation drive against Covid-19.
“I have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to allow political party leaders, Ministers, and legislators to be vaccinated in the first phase and set an example so that the people can have confidence,” Puducherry CM V Narayanasamy said.
The Chinese-developed Coronavac Covid-19 vaccine has demonstrated a 50 percent efficacy following tests in Brazil, the organization in charge of its production in the South American country said. Coronavac has been given to frontline health care workers in close contact with coronavirus patients.
The Butantan Institute repeated its claim from last week that the vaccine is 78 percent effective in mild cases that needed treatment and showed 100 percent efficacy in moderate to serious cases. “It’s a safe, effective vaccine that ticks all the boxes to justify its use in an emergency,” said Butantan director Dimas Covas.
The Delhi Police has made adequate security arrangements in the city for the smooth transportation of COVID-19 vaccines when the countrywide vaccination roll-out will begin later this week, officials said.
The first batch of Covishield vaccine containing 2.64 lakh doses reached Delhi’s central storage facility at Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital (RGSSH) on Tuesday amid high security, they said.
Special Commissioner of Police (Operations and Licensing) Muktesh Chander said the security force ensured smooth transportation of vaccines from the airport to RGSSH where adequate police arrangements have been made.
British authorities have had to set up a temporary morgues in some areas after local hospital mortuaries ran out of space due to a surge in deaths caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Britain has reported record levels of deaths and new infections in the last few weeks, fuelled by a new variant of the coronavirus which has caused a surge in cases, especially in London and southeast England.
In Surrey, to the south of London, the county’s hospital mortuaries have reached their 600 capacity, meaning local authorities have had to start using a temporary morgue.