Coronavirus LIVE updates: The Sikkim government on Friday extended the complete lockdown in the state till 3 August in view of a spurt in COVID-19 cases, a senior official said.
Coronavirus LATEST Updates: The Sikkim government on Friday extended the complete lockdown in the state till 3 August in view of a spurt in COVID-19 cases, a senior official said.
As per the revised guidelines from the Home Department, the lockdown remains extended till 6 am on 3 August, a notification issued by Chief Secretary SC Gupta said.
A set of revised guidelines with regard to restrictions on movement and gathering of people, however, will come into force on 3 August and will be applicable till 31 August, he said.
The Sikkim government had reimposed a complete lockdown in the state on 20 July for six days and extended it till 1 August in view of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Himalayan state has recorded a nearly seven-fold increase in coronavirus cases in the last one month, registering a total of 610 infections till July 30. One COVID-19 patient has died and 395 are under treatment.
Delhi Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal on Friday cancelled the Delhi government’s decision to reopen hotels and weekly markets on a trial basis. The decision was taken by the Arvind Kejriwal government as part of the ‘Unlock 3’ guidelines.
India reported over 50,000 COVID-19 cases for the first time since the outbreak of the virus, pushing the country’s caseload to 15,83,792, while experts warned that though “herd immunity” may develop in certain pockets, it’s likely to be short-lived.
The country on Thursday registered an increase of 52,123 infections in 24 hours while the death-toll climbed to 34,968 with 775 people succumbing to the disease in a day, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.
Amidst the growing cases, Tamil Nadu announced the extension of coronavirus-induced lockdown in the state on Friday till 31 August but with more relaxations, including scaling up workforce in private establishments and allowing dine-in services in hotels and restaurants.
The West Bengal government further extended the ban on flights from six “high” COVID-19 cities, including Mumbai and Delhi, till 15 August.
However, the number of number of recoveries continued to rise surpassing 10 lakh with active cases now at 5,28,242, according to the Union Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, in another reassuring news, a COVID-19 vaccine candidate developed by the University of Oxford in the UK was shown to elicit an immune response and reduced the viral load in monkeys exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to a study published in the journal Nature.
Tamil Nadu extends lockdown
Tamil Nadu chief minister K Palaniswami, announcing the extension of the lockdown, reasoned that “significant” number of coronavirus cases had prompted the continuation of curbs. He called for public cooperation towards strict adherence to social distancing, wearing of masks and hand hygiene to contain the spread.
The decision came after Palaniswami held discussions with district collectors on Wednesday and the government appointed medical expert panel on Thursday where he took stock of the situation in the state.
As of Thursday, Tamil Nadu has 2.34 lakh Covid-19 cases, including 3,741 deaths.
Extending the total shutdown imposed across the state on Sundays in July to August, Palaniswami said intense curbs will be in place on 2,9,16,23 and 30 August as well.
The Independence Day celebrations on 15 August will be held across the state as per Central Government guidelines on precautions like social distancing and use of masks, he said in a statement.
Existing ban on religious congregations, operation of public transport including Metro rail, shopping malls, theatres and bars and all kinds of political and sporting activities, inter-state public and private transport will continue, he added.
The e-pass system for inter-district and inter-state travel will continue, he said.
Schools and educational institutions will remain closed but they can continue with and promote online learning, the chief minister added. Ban on international aviation, but for services allowed by the MHA, will also continue.
Hotels and resorts will remain closed but those accommodating medical personnel, police and government officials, besides facilities used as quarantine centres will function, he said.
Popular tourist destinations Udhagamandalam and Kodaikanal will remain out of bounds for travellers.
Herd immunity may be short-lived, say scientists
Herd immunity against Covid-19 in India is likely to be achieved only in pockets given the many socio-economic groups in the country and may be short-lived rather than long-lasting, say scientists as sero-surveillance data from New Delhi and Mumbai raise hopes of community protection’ from the disease.
Herd immunity occurs when a large number of people, usually 70 to 90 percent, become immune to a contagious disease after being infected to it.
But there are many grey areas clouding the issue as far as the novel coronavirus is concerned with no consensus on when herd immunity sets in.
There are no clear numbers to say at what percent of infected population we will achieve herd immunity. Many epidemiologists believe that for SARS-CoV-2 it would be at around 60 percent, said Shahid Jameel, virologist and CEO of the Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance, a public charity that invests in building biomedical sciences and health research frameworks.
Of the 775 fresh deaths reported on Thursday, 298 are from Maharashtra, 92 from Karnataka, 82 from Tamil Nadu, 65 from Andhra Pradesh, 41 from West Bengal, 33 from Uttar Pradesh, 26 from Delhi, 25 from Punjab, 24 from Gujarat, 15 Jammu and Kashmir, 13 from Madhya Pradesh, 12 from Telangana.
Nine fatalities have been reported each from Bihar and Jharkhand, seven from Haryana, six from Rajasthan, five from Odisha, four from Assam, three from Goa, two each from Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh and one each from Kerala and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Of the total 34,968 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra has reported the maximum at 14,463, followed by 3,907 in Delhi, 3,741 in Tamil Nadu, 2,396 in Gujarat, 2,147 in Karnataka, 1,530 in Uttar Pradesh, 1,490 in West Bengal, 1,213 in Andhra Pradesh and 843 in Madhya Pradesh.
So far, 650 people have died of COVID-19 in Rajasthan, 492 in Telangana, 413 in Haryana, 361 in Punjab, 348 in Jammu and Kashmir, 278 in Bihar, 159 in Odisha, 98 in Jharkhand, 92 in Assam, 72 in Uttarakhand and 68 in Kerala.
Puducherry has registered 47 deaths, Chhattisgarh 48, Goa 39, Tripura 21, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh 14 each, Ladakh six, Meghalaya and Nagaland five each, Arunachal Pradesh three, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands two each and Sikkim one.
The health ministry stressed that more than 70 percent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.
“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.
Oxford vaccine tests show encouraging results
Researchers from National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US and the Oxford University found that the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine protects the macaques from COVID-19 pneumonia — a complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection in which the lungs become inflamed and may fill with fluid.
Preliminary results from this research were used to facilitate the start of clinical trials of the vaccine in humans, the researchers noted.
ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 is made from a weakened chimpanzee adenovirus — a group of viruses that can cause a range of illnesses, including the common cold — that expresses the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, a structure that enables the coronavirus to enter human cells.
The researchers show that a single dose of ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, given to six macaques 28 days before exposure to SARS-CoV-2, is effective in preventing damage to lungs and drastically reduces the viral load, when compared with six control animals.
US records over 1,50,000 COVID-19 deaths
The US has recorded over 1,50,000 Covid-19 deaths amidst warning from a top Indian-American physician that the country has failed to arrest the spread of the deadly pandemic.
America’s coronavirus toll was 150,676 as of Wednesday — more than a fifth of the world’s recorded deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US also had over 44,26,000 confirmed cases, making it the world’s worst-hit country.
The first death in the US was reported on 29 February. The country reached 50,000 deaths 54 days later on 23 April, and 34 days later, on 27 May, crossed 100,000 deaths. It has taken 63 days to add another 50,000 to cross 1.5 lakh deaths, CNN reported.
“I think the fact that we as a country have not been able to get our arms around this, have not prioritised preventing those deaths is all that much more maddening,” Dr Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, said.
“And so, for me it’s frustration, it’s sadness. And a resolve to try to figure out how we prevent the next 1,50,000,” Jha told CNN.
“I think we can, but we’re really going to have to work for it,” he added.
Some states in the US are seeing their highest tolls. California on Wednesday reported 197 COVID-19-related deaths in a single day, according to state Department of Public Health. That total far outpaces the previous high of 159, recorded just last week.
Florida also reported a record 216 deaths on Wednesday.
Scientists map how coronavirus spreads via aerosols
Meanwhile, scientists have simulated how the novel coronavirus spreads indoors via aerosols as infected people speak or exhale, and have found the features of good ventilation that can filter virus particles out of the air, information that may help businesses and schools reduce COVID-19 transmission when they reopen.
The researchers, including Jiarong Hong from the University of Minnesota in the US, modelled indoor airborne virus transmission via aerosols, which are tiny droplets ejected from people’s mouths when they exhale, speak, or cough.
According to the yet-to-be peer reviewed study, published in the preprint server arXiv, when an infected person does this, the virus particles hitch a ride on the aerosols as they land on nearby surfaces, or are inhaled by another person.
Based on their experiments, the researchers found that in indoor spaces, good ventilation will filter some of the virus out of the air, but may leave more viral particles on surfaces.
“Our results show that the design of ventilation is critical for reducing risk of particle encounters. Inappropriate design can significantly limit the efficiency of particle removal, create local hot spots with orders of magnitude higher risks, and enhance particle deposition causing surface contamination,” they wrote in the study.
With inputs from PTI