A team of international investigators led by the World Health Organization (WHO) is likely to go to China in early January to study the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak, which first began in Wuhan, in southwestern Hubei province, late last year.
A team of 12-15 experts will likely go to Wuhan “to examine evidence, including human and animal samples collected by Chinese researchers, and to build on their initial studies”, Reuters reported.
Also read: Covishield showing ‘good’ immune response
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National | Vaccinations
Vaccination for COVID-19 will be voluntary: Health ministry
Getting vaccinated for COVID-19 will be voluntary, the Union Health Ministry has said while underlining that the vaccine introduced in India will be as effective as any vaccine developed by other countries.
The Ministry further stated that it was advisable to receive a complete schedule of the anti-coronavirus vaccine irrespective of past history of infection with COVID-19 as this will help in developing a strong immune response against the disease.
It also said that protective level of antibodies generally develop two weeks after receiving the second dose.
The Ministry listed a series of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday night and responded to questions like if taking a vaccine was mandatory, how long does it take for the antibodies to develop and if it was necessary for a COVID recovered person to take the vaccine.
“Vaccination for COVID-19 is voluntary. However, it is advisable to receive the complete schedule of the vaccine for protecting one-self against this disease and also to limit the spread of this disease to the close contacts including family members, friends, relatives and co-workers,” the ministry said in response to a question on if it is mandatory to take the shot.
Australia imposes border curbs
Australian states and territories on Friday begun imposing border restrictions after 28 COVID-19 cases were detected from a cluster on Sydney’s northern beaches, with fears the number of infections will rise.
“Everyone in greater Sydney needs to be on high alert,” New South Wales (NSW) state Premier Gladys Berejiklian told a news conference on Friday in announcing 10 new cases.
NSW has urged about a quarter of a million residents in the affected suburbs in Sydney to stay home for three days.
Six COVID-19 Care Centres closed in Manipur as situation improves
Six COVID-19 Care Centres have been closed down in Manipur from Friday morning as the situation has improved.Besides, the mandatory testing in the Imphal international airport on arrival has also been stopped.
Health Director K. Rajo said that the steps were taken in view of the “improved COVID-19 situation in Manipur”. However, the thermal scanning of the incoming passengers would continue.
Biden’s adviser Cedric Richmond tests positive for coronavirus
One of President-elect Joe Biden’s closest advisers tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, according to his transition team.
Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, who is set to resign from Congress to join the incoming Biden administration as a senior adviser, tested positive two days after traveling to Atlanta to attend a campaign rally that Biden headlined for Democratic Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, Biden transition spokesperson Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.
Make COVID vaccines accessible to all: Nobel laureate
Nobel laureate and social entrepreneur from Bangladesh Muhammad Yunus, well known for his work in the area of microfinance, on Thursday called for efforts to make COVID vaccines accessible to all.
Stating that many countries had already booked vaccines more than what is needed to inoculate their population, he said the rush is already creating a world of vaccines haves and have-nots. “I appeal to the world to declare vaccine as a global public good. There should not be any ownership control, commercial control [over the vaccine]… there should not be any patent right,” he said, pointing out that vaccine is life and life is for everybody.
For Odisha tribals, physical distancing has been a way of life
The tribal population in Odisha was largely untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic as its unique customary practices and traditions were in sync with the preventive measures to keep infection at bay, finds a study by Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Research and Training Institute (SCSTRTI), a premier government-run research institute on indigenous people.
Kerala exams from March 17
The SSLC and Plus Two higher secondary and vocational higher secondary examinations will be held from March 17 to 30. The decision was taken at a high-level online meeting of Education Ministers and those for Health, Agriculture and Fisheries and Education and Health Secretaries that was presided over by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Thursday.
There was concern among Class 10 and Plus Two students regarding the date for the examinations in the wake of online classes being held for them since the start of the academic year owing to COVID-19.
Pfizer applies for COVID-19 vaccine approval in Japan
Drugmaker Pfizer Inc said on Friday it had applied for approval in Japan of its COVID-19 vaccine, which is already being administered in the United Kingdom and the United States. The Japanese government has a supply deal with Pfizer for 120 million vaccine doses of the vaccine made by Pfizer and German partner BioNTech.
Governor advises Coimbatore residents to wear masks
Governor Banwarilal Purohit made an unplanned stop near Selvapuram, en route to Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore, to interact with the residents.
After making general enquiries, speaking in Tamil and English, Mr. Purothi requested them to continue wearing masks and adhering to physical distancing norms to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Mr. Purohit then boarded his car as the convoy headed to TNAU, the sources said.
Schools in Karnataka likely to start on January 1 for students in classes 10 and 12
Schools in Karnataka are likely to resume classes on January 1 for students in classes 10 and 12 who are preparing for their board examinations. This was the recommendation of the COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), whose members met with officials from the Department of Health and Family Welfare and Department of Primary and Secondary Education on Thursday to discuss the reopening of schools.
In what appears to be a staggered approach to the reopening of schools, the committee said that after observing how these classes are conducted for a span of two weeks, regular classes for students of classes 9 and 11 can be held from January 15 onwards.