Coronavirus LIVE News: The Omicron coronavirus variant has been reported in 89 countries and the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday. Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity, but it is unclear if this is due to the virus’ ability to evade immunity, its inherent increased transmissibility or a combination of both, the WHO said in an update. The agency designated Omicron a variant of concern on November 26, soon after it was first detected, and much is still not known about it, including the severity of the illness it causes.
With the number of Omicron cases rapidly rising in the country, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued a call to avoid non-essential travel and mass gatherings, and observe low-intensity festivities. “Local restrictive measures” are to be implemented in 24 districts from seven states, including nine in Kerala and eight in Manipur, with a weekly test positivity rate above 5 per cent. The Centre also warned it is likely that the spread of the new variant will outpace the Delta variant where there is community transmission. This comes as India’s Omicron tally went past 100 cases on Friday, after recording the highest single day rise of 24 fresh cases and affecting 11 states and UTs across the country.
On the case front, India recorded 7,145 new cases of coronavirus and 289 deaths in the 24 hours ending 8 am Saturday. Active cases stand at 84,565, lowest in over 18 months.
In another development, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an emergency use listing for Covovax, the anti-Covid vaccine being produced by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) under license from Novavax. SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said, “This is yet another milestone in our fight against Covid-19, Covovax is now WHO approved for emergency use, showing excellent safety and efficacy.”