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Covid booster-dose policy likely by month end: NTAGI member | India News

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PUNE: A policy on booster doses is likely to be announced by the end of this month, but the priority will be to complete the adult vaccination programme at the earliest, said a senior national task force member on Saturday. The National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (NTAGI), the government’s advisory body on immunisation, will finalise the policies.
“A comprehensive policy is likely to come out based on Indian epidemiology and the pandemic situation in the country and not based on other nations. The meeting should be held in the next two weeks,” said the task force member on the developments. He said even as the policy is being readied, the thrust would, however, be on speeding up and completing the adult vaccination programme. The focus would be to ensure that at least all adult beneficiaries are administered the first dose by December 31. At present, over 80% of the adult population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine, and over 41% has got both the shots. In a recent meeting, most states had demanded booster shots for health workers. Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope, too, had exerted on the same.

Dr Samiran Panda, the head of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases Division at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that in the discussion on booster doses or a third shot, it is essential that one does not get diverted from the public health programme of the two doses.

“Discussions around the third dose pertain to those who, because of immunosuppressed conditions, are not able to mount enough immunity,” he told TOI. Meanwhile, experts said that health authorities should consider that early recipients —senior citizens, people with comorbidities or health and frontline workers — got their two shots within a six-week period as against the current ideal period of 84 days. As the early recipients got fully vaccinated within a short period, their antibody levels would have dipped by now and they need a booster shot soon, said experts. “I have a feeling that India will only roll out third doses for the clinically vulnerable and highly exposed once transmission starts to skyrocket again. That will be too late,’’ said public health specialist Dr Swapneil Parikh, adding that we need to start right away.
(Inputs from Mumbai)

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Kids who tested Covid +ve fly to US with parents | Jaipur News

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JAIPUR: In an act of gross negligence, a four-member family who had come here from the US around 15 days ago, returned despite both their kids aged eight and six years testing positive for Covid.
“They boarded a flight to the US from Delhi at 2am on Sunday despite the two kids testing positive for Covid and putting co-passengers at risk of getting infected,” said Dr Narrottam Sharma, chief medical health officer (Jaipur-I).
The children along with their parents had come to Jaipur to meet their relatives residing in Bani Park. Out of eight cases reported in Jaipur, two were of the kids who have allegedly left for the US.
“Before going to the US, they had got their Covid test done at a private diagnostic centre, the report of which came on Saturday. When we received information from the lab about the two kids testing positive, our teams reached the house where they were staying in Bani Park for contact tracing, but they informed us that they had already left Jaipur in their private vehicle and were travelling to the US,” said Dr Sharma, adding the health authorities confronted them how they allowed them to travel flouting Covid norms.
“They said the children did not have any Covid symptoms and were healthy. They also have a declaration from a pediatrician mentioning that the children do not have Covid symptoms,” said Dr Sharma.

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New COVID variant casts shadow over vacation plans of Malayali expatriates- The New Indian Express

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Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Indian expats who have been planning to visit the home country to be with their families for Christmas will be hit hard with the emergence of the new variant of COVID virus, Omicron, in South Africa. The expats are now forced to reschedule their travel fearing that they might be stuck here if West Asian countries close their borders in the event of further spread. 

In addition, the prospects of foreign tourists arriving in Kerala would also be slim if the Omicron infection spreads. Kerala has strengthened screening and testing of all international travellers coming from or transiting through South Africa, Botswana, Hong Kong, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Singapore, Zimbabwe, and Israel at its four airports.

A senior Air India officer said, “A majority of Kerala expats are based in West Asian countries. So far, no air traffic regulation has been announced in those countries. We cannot assure travellers that the air traffic will not be affected.”

Kerala-headquartered Air India Express has almost regained 80% of its traffic after the GCC countries lifted regulations enforced following the second wave. 

“Although no traffic curbs have been announced, we are anticipating a drop in passenger traffic to India from GCC countries in December as expats are likely to avoid travelling anticipating traffic regulations in the event of detecting more cases of Omicron infection,” said an Air India Express officer.  

KV Dhanu, a private company staffer in Dubai, said he was planning to come down to Kerala by December 1 for post-COVIDd treatment. “I have applied for a 10-day leave for treatment purposes. But now, I am doubtful if I will be able to get back here on time,” he said.

So is the case with expats who plan to come to Kerala for Christmas vacation. Normally, the expats travel to Kerala during Christmas vacation and fly back after New Year. Now it’s almost certain that the passenger movement would be affected severely as quarantine is mandated for passengers, said a private airline officer.

The emergence of the new COVID variant will also be a dampener for Kerala Tourism which has started an international campaign to woo foreign tourists.

Earlier this month, Kerala had made an impressive presence at the three-day World Travel Market (WTM) 2021 in London sending out a strong message that the tourism sector here is on the path of recovery from the prolonged pandemic-triggered lull. The UK is the biggest source market for Kerala Tourism over the years. 

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covid 19: Omicron variant: Returnees from abroad to MP in last one month to undergo COVID-19 test, says CM

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Amid concerns over the potentially more contagious new Omicron variant of coronavirus detected in some countries recently, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Sunday said all the people who arrived in the state from international destinations in the past one month will have to go undergo COVID-19 test.

The state government also withdrew the earlier announced relaxations for schools and decided that they will continue to hold online classes and run physical classes with 50 per cent strength of students only after consent from their parents.

Chouhan had on November 17 announced withdrawal all coronavirus-related restrictions in Madhya Pradesh with immediate effect while allowing all social, political, sports, entertainment, cultural and religious activities with full capacity.

On Sunday, after a meeting with senior officials over the COVID-19 situation, Chouhan said a new variant of the coronavirus has been found in some countries. Though no case of it has been found in India yet, some decisions have been taken in Madhya Pradesh as a precautionary measure.

Along with the central government’s guidelines, some additional precautions will be taken, he said.

“Those who came to Madhya Pradesh from other countries by international flights during the past one month will be tested in accordance with norms set by the Centre. They will be isolated if found with any symptom,” he said.

Chouhan also said that directives have been issued to increase the number of genome sequencing examination.

The chief minister also said he has given instructions to ensure the availability of essential medicines, including Remdesivir injections.

Directives have also been issued to repair other equipment, oxygen lines and plants and make all arrangements in hospitals as well, he said.

He said 58,000 to 60,000 tests for COVID-19 were being conducted per day in the state.

“The number of tests will also be increased now. We will strictly follow guidelines of the Government of India and the World Health Organisation. We have to take special care of children and those below 18 years of age, as they have not been vaccinated,” he said.

Chouhan said the state government has decided that schools will open with 50 per cent attendance from Monday.

This means each child will need to attend school only for three days in a week, he said, adding that schools will also need to run online classes as an alternate option.

“If parents do not want to send their children to school, then they should be given the option of online classes. Parental consent is required for children to go to school for physical classes. The children will go to school only when their parents agree to it,” he said.

Chouhan also said that 62.5 per cent of the eligible people have received the COVID-19 vaccine in Madhya Pradesh.

“Vaccination is being done daily, but a mega campaign will be held on December 1. I urge everyone that those who have not taken the second dose must get themselves fully vaccinated,” he said.

The CM said he will virtually review the COVID-19 situation with the district collectors and superintendents of police on Monday.

“I will discuss with the crisis management committees on December 1. We will keep everyone ready so that if the third wave comes, we can fight it with our full potential,” he said, while appealing to people to support the fight against the pandemic.

On Saturday, Madhya Pradesh reported 23 fresh cases of COVID-19, raising the state’s infection tally to 7,93,120, while the death toll remained unchanged at 10,528, as per official data. PTI ADU GK GK

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