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Change in rules for foreign travellers to India because of new Covid variant B.1.1529

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The Health Ministry Thursday issued direction to states that international travellers coming from and transiting through Botswana, South Africa, and Hong Kong must be subjected to rigorous screening and testing, due to multiple cases of Covid-19 variant B.1.1.529 reported in these countries.

Why has the advisory been issued?

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said India’s National Centre for Disease Control has reported to the health ministry that multiple cases of Covid-19 variant B.1.1529 have been reported in Botswana (4 cases), South Africa (22 cases), and, Hong Kong (2 cases).

Bhushan said that the variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for India in view of the recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel.

What does the direction mean for international travellers arriving from these countries?

These countries are part of the ‘at risk’ country category of international travellers coming to India. They will be subjected to rigorous screening and testing, and all their contacts will also be closely tracked and tested as per the health ministry guidelines for this category.

How will India track the new variant?

The states will now have to send the samples of travellers turning positive to designated labs of Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genetics Consortium (INSACOG), that tracks and monitors emergence and transmission of Covid-19 variants of concerns and variants of interests in India. Also, state surveillance officers will have to coordinate with the INSACOG labs and undertake test-track-treat to prevent the spread of the variant and formation of cluster of cases.

What are the official details given so far by South Africa?

On Thursday, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), the national public health institute of South Africa, said that a new COVID-19 variant, B.1.1.529, has been detected in South Africa, with 22 positive cases recorded following genomic sequencing.

Prof Adrian Puren, NICD Acting Executive Director, said : “Although the data are limited, our experts are working overtime with all the established surveillance systems to understand the new variant and what the potential implications could be. Developments are occurring at a rapid pace and the public has our assurance that we will keep them up to date.”

Official details given so far by Hong Kong

On Thursday, the government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said that the cluster of two cases in the Regal Airport Hotel had “highly similar genetic sequences and the viruses belonged to a newly emerged lineage, B.1.1.529”. “The sequences are similar to those found in South Africa and Botswana, supporting that case 12388 arriving in Hong Kong from South Africa was the index case. Scientific information on the public health significance about this lineage is lacking at the moment,” the official press release said.

Official details given so far by Botswana

The presidential Covid-19 task force of Botswana Thursday said that four cases of B.1.1.529 were reported on Monday, detected among travellers. It also said that the four travellers had been fully vaccinated. “Initial investigations on the virus have established that the new variant has a high number of mutations as compared to the locally predomination Delta variant. What this means is still unclear and under investigation. New variants have the potential to affect severity of disease…At this moment, real world impact of the variant has not been established,” Dr K Masupu, Coordinator, Presidential Covid-19 task force, said.

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Scotland Detects 6 Cases Of New Covid-19 Variant; Uk Total Rises To 11

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Six cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland, taking the UK’s total to 11 following three cases in England last week and two in London on Monday. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said the latest two cases found in Camden and Wandsworth areas of London have links to travel in southern Africa.

Earlier on Monday, the Scottish government said four cases have been found in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area. While all of England’s detected cases have a travel link with southern Africa, some of the people identified in Scotland have no travel history and may have caught the potentially highly transmissible variant in the community.

“On some of the cases, we are aware that there is no travel history involved. So, what that tells us is that there must be a degree of community transmission of this particular strain of the virus,” Scotland Deputy First Minister John Swinney told the BBC in reference to the cases detected in Scotland. But the minister reiterated that it is too early to say whether even tougher social distancing norms may be required against what is feared to be a potentially highly infectious variant and its response to current vaccines is yet to be fully determined.

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“This will be a worrying time for the six people now identified as having the new variant, said Scotland Health Secretary Humza Yousaf. All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases. This will help establish the origin of the virus and any further individuals they have come into contact with in recent weeks,” he said.

Omicron was first reported in South Africa and cases have been detected in countries across the world, including Australia, Germany, Israel and Hong Kong. Ten countries in southern Africa have been added to the UK’s travel ban “red list” in response and all overseas travellers arriving into the UK from Tuesday will need to take a PCR test.
Meanwhile, the UK’s vaccine advisory body backed an expansion of the COVID-19 booster vaccine scheme to all adults aged over 18. Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), has said it would be “sensible” to cut the current six-month time gap between doses and extend boosters to the under-40s as part of a planned “boost the booster” drive to protect against COVID-19.

First Published:  IST

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‘Jurassic World: Dominion’: release date, cast, plot

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Jurassic World: Dominion is the upcoming third movie in the legendary Jurassic World trilogy — and the sixth Jurassic Park film in total!

This epic film will excitingly see Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum reunite for the first time together since the original blockbuster went out in 1993.

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‘Genshin Impact’ Shenhe release date, trailer, skills, story, and constellations

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Genshin Impact Version 2.3 only just launched, but we’re already looking ahead to future updates. One of the most exciting additions with each update comes in the form of new playable characters. Following a batch of leaks for Version 2.4, developer miHoYo officially revealed Shenhe via Twitter. There’s still plenty to learn about Shenhe, but let’s take a look at everything we know about this five-star Cryo polearm character, from her abilities, personality, and possible release date.

When is the Genshin Impact Shenhe Banner release date?

It’s unknown when Shenhe will launch officially. miHoYo

Developer miHoYo has confirmed the existence of Shenhe but has yet to reveal when this new character will be added to Genshin Impact. It’s highly likely Shenhe will make her debut sometime during Version 2.4, which will begin on January 5, 2022. We’ll find out more about this five-star character as we approach the New Year.

Who is Shenhe in Genshin Impact?

Shenhe has a mean streak, which aids her in battle. miHoYo

Shenhe is a Cryo character who wields a polearm in Genshin Impact. She’s described as a “ferocious” warrior with a temper and has the ability to absolutely decimate her surroundings if she gets angry enough. So it’s best to stay on her good side.

Below is a description of Shenhe according to the Cloud Retainer, as shown on the official Genshin Impact Twitter account:

“One has traversed many realms and taken a great many pupils. Among them, Shenhe bears the closest resemblance to oneself.”

Another tweet refers to her as an “Ethereal Soul Amidst the Mortal Realm” who thinks that “Cloud Retainer is a knowledgeable and chatty master.” It also notes, “Shenhe comes from a branch family of a clan of exorcists. Due to certain reasons, Cloud Retainer took her in as a disciple.”

As we get closer to Version 2.4, miHoYo will likely give us more details about Shenhe’s personality.

Is there a Genshin Impact Shenhe trailer?

Sadly, there isn’t a trailer dedicated to Shenhe at this time, but miHoYo will likely put something together ahead of the release of Version 2.4. For now, you can enjoy the Version 2.3 Special Program video that covers everything about the latest update.

What are Shenhe’s abilities?

Shenhe’s abilities haven’t been officially confirmed by miHoYo. miHoYo

Since miHoYo hasn’t officially revealed everything about Shenhe, all we can do is rely on leakers for information, such as Honey Hunter. Keep in mind, some of this could change before miHoYo officially reveals the character’s abilities.

Normal Attack: Dawnstar Shooter

  • Normal attack: Performs up to five consecutive spear strikes
  • Charged attack: Consumes a certain amount of Stamina to lunge forward and deal damage
  • Plunging attack: Plunges from mid-air to strike the ground below, damaging opponents along the path and dealing AoE damage upon impact

Elemental Skill: Spring Spirit Summoning

Shenhe’s Elemental Skill changes depending on whether you press or hold the attack button, but it always grants all party members with the Icy Quill effect:

  • Press: Rushes forward together with a Talisman Spirit, dealing Cryo damage to opponents along the path
  • Hold: Commands the Talisman Spirit to deal AoE Cryo damage

Icy Quil

When using Normal, Charged, and Plunging Attacks, Elemental Skills, and Elemental Bursts deal Cryo damage to opponents. The damage dealt is increased based on Shenhe’s current Attack.

The Icy Quill effect will clear once its duration ends or after a certain number of stacks are consumed. Holding rather than pressing grants a longer duration and more stacks generated.

When one Cryo damage instance strikes multiple opponents, stacks will be consumed based on the number of opponents hit. The Icy Quill effects and stacks on every party member will be counted independently.

Elemental Burst: Divine Maiden’s Deliverance

Unleashes the power of the Talisman Spirit, allowing it to roam free in this plane, dealing AoE Cryo damage. The Talisman Spirit then creates a field that decreases the Cryo RES and Physical RES of opponents within it. It also periodically deals Cryo Damage to all opponents within the field.

Passive Skills

Shenhe’s Passive Skills can help out the entire team, granting party members with temporary buffs.

  • Precise Comings and Goings: Gains 25 percent more rewards when dispatched on a Liyue Expedition that takes longer than 20 hours.
  • Deific Embrace: An active character within the field created by Divine Maiden’s Deliverance gains a 10 percent Cryo damage Bonus.
  • Spirit Communion Seal: After Shenhe uses Spring Spirit Summoning, she will grant all nearby party members the following effects. Press: Elemental Skill and Elemental Burst damage increased by 15 percent for 10s. Hold: Normal, Charged, and Plunging Attack damage increased by 15 percent for 15s. When either effect is active, activating either effect again will refresh the already-active effect’s duration.

Constellations

  • Clarity of Heart: Spring Spirit Summoning can be used 1 more time.
  • Centered Spirit: Divine Maiden’s Deliverance lasts for 6 seconds longer. Active characters within the skill’s field deal 15 percent increased Cryo CRIT damage.
  • Seclusion: Increases the Level of Spring Spirit Summoning by 3. Maximum upgrade level is 15.
  • Insight: When characters under the effect of Icy Quill applied by Shenhe trigger its damage Bonus effects, Shenhe will gain a Skyfrost Mantra stack. When Shenhe uses Spring Sprit Summoning, she will consume all stacks of Skyfrost Mantra, increasing the damage of that Spring Spirit Summoning by 5 percent for each stack consumed. Max 50 stacks. Stacks last for 60s.
  • Divine Attainment: Increases the Level of Divine Maiden’s Deliverance by 3. Maximum upgrade level is 15.
  • Mystical Abandon: When characters trigger Icy Quill’s effects using Normal and Charged Attack damage, no Icy Quill stacks will be used up.

Genshin Impact is available right now.

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