Government to ease path for asset monetisation

India recorded 15,823 fresh coronavirus cases, taking the infection tally to 3,40,01,743 on Wednesday according to the Union Health Ministry’s data.

The death toll reached 4,51,189 with 226 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

The daily rise in new coronavirus infections has been below 30,000 for 19 straight days and less than 50,000 daily new cases have been reported for 108 consecutive days now.

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:

Sports

Sprinter Hima Das tests positive for COVID-19

Ace Indian sprinter Hima Das, who is making a comeback from a hamstring injury, on Wednesday revealed that she has tested positive for COVID-19 but is stable and in isolation.

“I would like to inform everyone that I have been tested positive for Covid-19. I am stable and at the moment in isolation. I look forward to utilising this time to recover and come back stronger than before,” Ms. Das tweeted. –PTI

Science

New antiviral compound blocks the COVID virus from entering cells: Study

Scientists have developed a chemical compound that they say could prevent infection from SARS-CoV-2 virus or reduce the severity of COVID-19, if given early in the course of an infection.

The compound, called MM3122, interferes with a key feature of many viruses that allows them to invade human cells, according to the researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in the US.

The compound, described in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, targets a key human protein called transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) that coronaviruses harness to enter and infect human cells.

National

Supreme Court issues notice on plea for mechanism to examine bills of ‘overcharged’ COVID-19 patients

The Supreme Court has decided to intervene in a plea for a mechanism to probe whether private hospitals fleeced desperate COVID-19 patients and their families, dragging them into financial ruin at the time of their dire need for medical care during the pandemic.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud has admitted a petition to direct the government to set up a mechanism to examine if private hospitals “overcharged” COVID-19 patients, preferring profit over public health.

“The issue which has been raised in the petition concerns a wide strata of society consisting of patients and their relatives who have been overcharged during the COVID-19 pandemic and the issue which has been raised would merit serious attention,” the Supreme Court underscored in its order.

USA

U.S. Labor Department submits initial text of Biden’s vaccine mandate to the White House

The U.S. Labor Department on October 12 submitted to the White House the initial text of President Joe Biden’s plan to require private-sector workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or get tested regularly.

The mandate would apply to businesses with 100 or more employees and will be implemented under a federal rule-making mechanism known as an emergency temporary standard. It would affect roughly 80 million workers nationwide.

Along with President Biden’s order last month that requires all federal workers and contractors to be vaccinated, the orders cover 100 million people, about two-thirds of the U.S.workforce.

 

West Bengal

‘Burj Khalifa’ Durga Puja pandal suspends laser show over COVID-19 fears

A crowd-puller Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata, modelled on the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa, has suspended its laser show following a massive gathering that stoked fears of the spread of COVID-19.

While some reports suggested that the laser show of Sribhumi Sporting Club, helmed by the state minister Sujit Bose, was suspended after some pilots complained of obstruction in viewing due to it, organisers of the puja situated close to the Dumdum airport claimed that the measure was taken as the crowd was not moving forward, creating COVID-19 and security hazards.-PTI

Telangana

How a Telangana tribal district is working towards 100% covid vaccination

The Bhadradri administration has drawn up a plan to accelerate the drive to inoculate the remaining 2.60 lakh population by this month-end. This would mean around 30,000 vaccine doses have to be administered daily within the tentative time frame, sources said.

The predominantly tribal district has already covered nearly 66-67% of the district’s eligible population so far, thanks to the mega vaccination drive against COVID-19.

The official machinery ramped up the vaccination drive to prevent the spread of coronavirus during the long festive season (October-December) which got under way with hordes of shoppers flocking to markets and business centres in Kothagudem, Palvancha, Manuguru and other major towns in the district.

 

USA

U.S. to reopen land borders in November for fully vaccinated

The U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic as the country moves to require all international visitors to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the earliest days of the pandemic. The new rules, to be announced Wednesday, will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel starting in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions is set to kick in for air travel into the country. By mid-January, even essential travelers seeking to enter the U.S., like truck drivers, will need to be fully vaccinated. – AP

West Bengal

Sharp rise in COVID-19 patients post-second wave, says top Kolkata psychiatrist

There has been a significant increase in the number of people seeking help for psychological problems following the second wave of COVID-19 that swept through the country in April-May this year, according to a top Kolkata psychiatrist.

“Pre-COVID days, the proportion of new patients I saw daily was only 20% to 30%, now it is 50% to 60%,” Jai Ranjan Ram, a leading professional in the field of psychiatry and a co-founder of Mental Health Foundation, told The Hindu.

 

Venezuela

Jailed former Venezuelan minister dies of COVID-19

Former Venezuelan Defence Minister and retired general Raul Baduel, considered a political prisoner by the opposition, has died after contracting coronavirus, the attorney general said on Tuesday.

Baduel was arrested in 2009 on corruption charges after falling out with the Socialist Party, eventually placed on house arrest and then re-jailed in 2017 for allegedly conspiring against Maduro. – Reuters

Telangana

Telangana expecting 1 cr. COVID vaccine doses this month: CS

Telangana is expecting consignment of one crore doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the current month. The government had administered first dose of vaccine to 2.02 crore people till date and three to four lakh people were being given vaccine on a daily basis, Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar said.

The State has covered 2.8 crore people through a special vaccination drive, he added.

The Chief Secretary inaugurated a mega vaccination centre set up in association with Care India at Khajaguda sports complex on Tuesday morning. The centre is among the six set up by the government to cover the entire population in a time-bound manner. It will function from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and has special counters for women and the elderly. Adequate doses of Covaxin and Covishield are positioned in the centre.

 

Doctors cautiously welcome COVID-19 vaccine booster dose plan

While the Union Health Ministry has adopted a wait and watch policy, the medical fraternity has cautiously welcomed the recent observation by the World Health Organization (WHO) that people with weaker immune systems should receive an additional shot of approved COVID-19 vaccines.

The recommendation follows a four-day meeting of the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunisation and a final report is to be issued in December. “Persons who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed, at any age will benefit from booster shots as they are unable to generate adequate levels of immune response to the standard dose regimen. The same is likely to be true for many of the elderly above 65 years of age,” said Professor K. Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).

Covishield and Covaxin vaccine vials at a temporary COVID-19 vaccination centre. File

Covishield and Covaxin vaccine vials at a temporary COVID-19 vaccination centre. File
 
| Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Delhi

Sisodia seeks guidelines from Union Health Minister

Amid clamour from the Delhi BJP and the Delhi Congress to allow Chhath Puja celebrations in the Capital, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday wrote to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to issue guidelines on the conduct of the festival.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority, in an order on September 30, had prohibited Chhath at riverbanks, waterbodies and other public places in view of COVID-19.

Mr. Sisodia, in his letter, requested the Minister to consult health experts and issue guidelines so that all devotees from north India can celebrate the festival keeping their safety in mind.