Coronavirus Briefing Newsletter – Times of India

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THE COUNT
  • India on Thursday reported 9,119 new cases and 396 fatalities, taking the cumulative caseload to 34,544,882 (109,940 active cases) and fatalities to 466,980.
  • Worldwide: Over 259.73 million cases and nearly 5.19 million fatalities.
  • Vaccination in India: 1,193,844,741 doses. Worldwide: Over 7.78 billion doses.
TODAY’S TAKE
Why dip in Covid testing is a worry
Why dip in Covid testing is a worry
  • Even as daily new Covid-19 cases in India have been consistently under the 10,000 mark for the last four days, concern is mounting about the fall in daily testing as it may undermine efforts to keep a tight lid on the spread of Covid-19.
  • Daily Covid-19 tests have been hovering at the 1 million mark, with a little over 1.1 million tests conducted in the last 24 hours, whereas the country has a capacity of twice as much.
  • Against the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) mandated 140 Covid-19 tests per 10-lakh of population, several states and districts are conducting tests that are well below the WHO-recommended rate.
  • In Maharashtra, for instance, daily number of tests, which averaged 2.68 lakh in the week of May 17-23 during the second wave, have come down to 9,502 last week while in Kerala, which has a high positivity rate of 9.7%, the number of tests conducted last week stood at 56,071 — way below the 2.9 lakh average daily tests conducted in the week August 9-15.
  • In Nagaland, testing has reduced by over a third in the last two months. For the week ended November 22, the state recorded a positivity rate of 1.5%, with the number of daily tests at 342, down from 1,250 average daily tests conducted in the week of August 23-29.
  • In a letter to 11 states and two union territories (UT), Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that there has been a decline in weekly testing rates.
  • The states flagged for low testing include Nagaland, Sikkim, Maharashtra, Kerala, Goa, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Punjab, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.
  • The health secretary cautioned that a few developed countries are “facing even a fourth and fifth wave despite high levels of Covid vaccination” due to which “there is a need for continued vigil”
TELL ME ONE THING
Europe is once again a pandemic hotspot
Europe is once again a pandemic hotspot
  • Despite the availability of vaccines, Covid-19 infection records are being broken several times over in several European countries like Germany, Hungary, The Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ireland, Russia and beyond.
  • The World Health Organization has warned that Covid will be the leading cause of death in its designated Europe region, warning of the potential for 700,000 more deaths in parts of Asia and its Europe region by March 2022. Recently, confirmed daily Covid deaths there have reached 4,200.
  • And many nations are resorting to drastic measures to counter the wave. Austria plans to become the first country in the region to make vaccinations mandatory by February. Along with Slovakia, it has enacted stricter measures to curb Covid cases, including lockdowns and banning the unvaccinated from public places like restaurants and bars.
  • Vaccination rates range from 75% in Belgium to 24% in Bulgaria. And European Union leaders too have been making their frustrations known to those who haven’t yet received a shot.
  • But despite these countries’ efforts to keep cases down, protests against the restrictions continue in the Netherlands, Austria, and across Europe.
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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl
Research: Rajesh Sharma

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