A health worker (L) inoculates a man with a dose of the Covishield vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus during a door-to-door vaccination campaign in the village of Khag in Budgam district (AFP)
NEW DELHI: Daily Covid cases across the country continue on an upward trajectory, dominated by a fast-spreading Omicron variant. Two major urban centres, Delhi and Chennai, recorded their highest number of daily cases today. However, Mumbai has seen a drop in numbers from yesterday.
Prime Minister Modi chaired a virtual meeting with state chief ministers on Thursday evening, during which he stressed the need not to panic despite rising numbers. He also mentioned the acceleration of the “Har Ghar Dastak” program to achieve full vaccination coverage of the entire eligible population.
Here are the main developments of the day:
Omicron drives the rise of metros
The Omicron variant of Covid-19 is responsible for the majority of new cases; the Delta variant, which was dominant during the second wave in India around the middle of last year, now accounts for 15-20% of cases, said Dr S Kumar of LNJP Hospital in Delhi.
The nation’s capital recorded 28,867 new cases on Thursday, a record since the start of the pandemic. In the south, Chennai also recorded a record number of daily cases with 8,218 people testing positive. The previous peak was May 12, 2021, when the city reported 7,564 new cases.
However, Mumbai saw a drop of around 16% in the number of munbers from Wednesday, recording 13,702 new cases. Bengaluru also reported 18,374 new Covid cases.
Need to further accelerate ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign, says PM Modi
There is a need to further accelerate the “Har Ghar Dastak” program to achieve 100% vaccination coverage, the prime minister said on Thursday during an interaction with the state’s chief ministers. He was chairing a meeting to take stock of the pandemic situation in the country.
Stating that vaccines are the best weapons to fight Covid, Prime Minister Modi said every effort must be made to ensure that no misinformation about vaccines spreads.
“The sooner we get precautionary doses to frontline workers and the elderly, the safer our healthcare system will be,” he said.
Despite the massive rise in new Covid cases across the country, Modi said there was no need to panic. However, we cannot let our guard down.
“The focus must be on local containment to curb the spread of Covid. We must also ensure that as many people as possible are cured within the standards of home isolation,” Prime Minister Modi said.
He told chief ministers that a “proactive, preventive and collective” approach is needed to prevent an alarming situation from occurring.
Several states announce more curbs
Haryana has extended the Covid restrictions imposed under “Mahamari Alert- Surakshit Haryana” to all districts in the state. The restrictions were previously only applicable in some of the worst-hit districts.
In Ladakh, all private, public and residential schools, hostels, training centers, gymnasiums and other indoor facilities will remain closed. Bars, restaurants can operate with 25% seating capacity. Public transport must run with half the seat capacity and passengers without masks will not be allowed to travel.
The civic body of Bengaluru has said an entire apartment complex will be declared a ‘containment zone’ for at least 7 days in the event of more than 3 Covid cases. All residents of affected compounds will be tested, and detailed contact tracing and monitoring should be carried out.
Mandaviya urges ‘eligible young friends to get vaccinated’ quickly
More than three million young people in the age group 15-18 have received the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine since India opened vaccination for this category of beneficiaries on January 3, the Minister of Health said on Thursday. Union Health, Mansukh Madaviya.
In a tweet, he said: “Over 3 million young people between the ages of 15 and 18 have received the 1st dose of the #COVID19 vaccine. I call on all my eligible young friends to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
Vaccination began on January 3 for adolescents in the 15-18 age group.
“AstraZeneca Booster Gives Higher Antibody Response Against Omicron”
AstraZeneca said Thursday that preliminary data from a trial it conducted of its Covid-19 vaccine, Vaxzevria, showed it generated a higher antibody response against the Omicron variant and others, including Beta. , Delta, Alpha and Gamma, when given as a third booster dose.
The increased response was seen in people who had previously been vaccinated with Vaxzevria or an mRNA vaccine, the drugmaker said, adding that it would submit such data to regulators around the world given the urgent need for boosters.
The company said it adds to the growing evidence that supports a third dose of its vaccine, regardless of the primary vaccination schedule.