omicron: Japan starts booster Covid-19 vaccinations amid omicron scare
Japan’s initial vaccination drive kicked off in mid-February and some medical workers who received jabs more than nine months ago are now eager to get additional protection ahead of a possible next wave of infections especially after the new variant known as omicron, which was first reported in South Africa last week, was found in Japan on Tuesday.
At Tokyo Medical Center, a group of nurses and doctors received booster shots.
“It’s an important first step for our patients and their families to be treated with a sense of safety,” said hospital chief Kazuhiro Araki.
Even though vaccine efficacy against the new variant is still being examined, booster shots are important, Araki said, because the vaccines remain effective against other strains of the virus, including delta, which put heavy pressure on Japan’s health care systems this summer.
In principle, those who received their second shot eight months ago are eligible for a third shot to prevent breakthrough infections. Eligibility may be shortened to six months if there is a resurgence of infections, officials said.
Japan’s vaccination rollout got off to a slow start but surged from late May onward and now about 77% of the population has been fully vaccinated a main reason experts cite for Japan’s steady slowing of infections since September.
Booster shots for elderly people, who received their initial inoculations starting in April, are expected to begin in January.
The booster vaccination drive began amid a global scare over the new variant. The first case of omicron in Japan was detected Tuesday in a Namibian diplomat who recently arrived from that country.
Japan banned all foreign visitors starting Tuesday as an emergency precaution against the new variant. The ban tentatively extends through the end of the year. The government is also requiring Japanese nationals arriving in the country to quarantine for up to 14 days.
The World Health Organization warned Monday that the global risk from the omicron variant is “very high” based on the early evidence, saying it could lead to surges with “severe consequences.”
Bommai bats for Covid-19 booster dose for frontline workers, to meet Mansukh Mandaviya
Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Wednesday said the state government intends to administer booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to frontline workers including health personnel. Bommai said he will meet Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya to discuss the same “in person” during his visit to Delhi tomorrow.
“Our health workers and frontline workers had taken first and second doses of vaccine about six to seven months back. Health experts here have felt that they need to be administered with a booster dose. I will meet the Union Health Minister in person to raise this concern,” Bommai said, speaking to reporters at Hubballi. A final decision on the same will be based on the Centre’s advice, the chief minister added.
On questions related to whether the Covid-19 variant confirmed to be “other than Delta” was ascertained, Bommai said that the sample of the person who arrived in Bengaluru recently from South Africa, was “sent to NCBS (National Centre for Biological Sciences) for further analysis.” He reiterated that all other international passengers, whose positive samples were sent for whole-genomic sequencing were identified to be of the Delta variant.
Bommai also reiterated that plans of lockdown were not on the cards, urging the public to avoid “unnecessary worry and panic related to such rumours.” He explained that social and economic activities were only gradually getting back on track and hence such a decision was not discussed at all, after several meetings with the experts.
“We are yet to make any decision on restrictions for Christmas and New Year celebrations. The situation then will be assessed before taking a call on those,” he said.
When asked whether Karnataka would attach any government facility or scheme with Covid-19 vaccination, similar to that announced by neighbouring Kerala on Tuesday, Bommai said the state’s focus was on “intensifying vaccination campaigns rather than making it compulsory.”
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Delhi govt releases EV charging norms for corporates
The Dialogue and Development Commission of Delhi (DDC) launched a guidebook for EV Charging in workplaces for corporates, Monday.
DDC vice-chairperson Jasmine Shah said research suggested that 90% of EVs are charged at home or workplace.
“This guidebook details the processes involved for effective decision-making to install workplace charging and is aimed at making corporates an integral part of the EV movement,” he said.
If police knew about riot plans, then why no action: Umar Khalid’s lawyer to Delhi court
Former JNU student Umar Khalid, through his lawyer, asked a Delhi court Monday why police allowed the Northeast Delhi riots to take place when a protected witness was supposedly in touch with the local SHO, informing him about the planning.
Senior advocate Trideep Pais was arguing for bail on behalf of Umar before Additional Sessions Judge Amitabh Rawat. However, his arguments could not be concluded and will continue on December 9.
On the last date of hearing, Pais submitted that the witnesses in the UAPA case made cooked-up statements and that a case can’t be made on half-truths. During Monday’s hearing, Pais submitted that the witnesses had made improved statements to the Magistrate and that they were “cherry picked” by police around Umar’s arrest.
3 men arrested for hacking exam centre computers
The Delhi Police Cyber Cell arrested three men who run coaching centres in Delhi and Ahmedabad for allegedly helping hundreds of students cheat in competitive exams.
Police said the trio used the dark web to advertise their services, and would hack systems and change answers during online exams. To ensure no one from the test centre suspected them, they used software to detect movement of all people inside using a computer there, police said.
Senior police officers said the accused charged Rs 1-2 lakh from each candidate to help them clear exams such as GMAT, GATE, CAT.
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