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India will see Omicron surge but cases will be mild, vaccines will help: Angelique Coetzee

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India will see a surge in Omicron-driven Covid cases and a high positivity rate. Still, the infection will hopefully be mild in most people, as seen in South Africa, says Dr Angelique Coetzee, who first identified the variant.

The South African Medical Association chairperson also said existing vaccines would control the contagion, but those unvaccinated are at 100 per cent “risk”.

“Existing vaccines will greatly help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant,” Coetzee told PTI in a phone interview from Pretoria.

In the case of a vaccinated person or one who has had a history of being infected by COVID-19, it will spread to fewer people, she said, adding that unvaccinated people will potentially spread the virus 100 per cent.

“Existing vaccines would greatly help to reduce the spreading, as we know that you would spread only about 1/3 if vaccinated or had the previous history of being infected by Covid, while unvaccinated people will potentially spread the virus 100 per cent,” she said.

According to the South African expert, who first brought the Omicron variant to the world’s notice, the Covid pandemic is yet to be over and will become endemic in the days to come.

She disagreed with the opinion of some experts that Covid is heading towards an end with the advent of Omicron, which as of now is comparatively a weaker variant of the coronavirus.

“I do not think so. I believe it will be difficult (for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to end soon). I presume it will become endemic,” she predicted.

“India will see a surge in Omicron-driven COVID-19 cases, and simultaneously there will be a high-positivity rate. But hopefully, the majority of the cases will be as mild as what we see here in South Africa,” she added as India on Saturday reported 415 cases of the Omicron variant.

According to the Union Health Ministry data, of these, 115 have recovered or migrated.

In Coetzee’s view, any virus that grows out of control will potentially threaten humans.

Coetzee said it attacks warm bodies and is infecting children by discussing the character of the Omicron strain of Covid that is spreading fast across the world and has dampened year-end festivities in many parts of the country.

“… for now, Omicron is not threatening, but it is fast spreading with a high infectivity rate, but less severe cases in hospitals. The virus’s sole purpose is to infect a warm body and survive. And yes, children are also being infected by it, but they are recovering in an average of five-six days,” she said.

Can the Omicron variant again mutate and change its character?

“Yes, it might mutate in the future to be more deadly, or it might not,” she said.

The 61-year-old medical practitioner also held that human behaviour such as wearing masks and following safety protocols for COVID-19 would play a huge role in controlling the transmission of Omicron.

“You cannot rely on vaccines alone. Unfortunately, human behaviour also plays a huge role, and one also needs to be responsible and take ownership of what you do,” she stated.

“Vaccines, boosters, masks, good ventilation, stay away from crowds and common sense. Also, know the symptoms and when to test, when to see a doctor and get treatment,” the renowned South African doctor said.

In India, Maharashtra has recorded 108 Omicron cases, followed by Delhi with 79, Gujarat 43, Telangana 38, Kerala 37, Tamil Nadu 34 and Karnataka 31.

Several states and union territories have passed orders to ban gatherings on Christmas and New Year to restrict the spread of the virus.

The health ministry has advised states and union territories to be vigilant and monitor case positivity, double the rate and cluster of new cases, and consider imposing curbs and restrictions at the local level on Christmas and in the days leading to the New Year.

According to South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), 74 per cent of all the virus genomes it had sequenced in November had been of the Omicron variant. The first instance was found in a sample taken on November 8 in Gauteng.

Data indicated that between November 14 and December 4, hospitalisation across South Africa was comparatively lower than when the country was facing the peak linked to the Delta variant in July. ICU occupancy in South Africa has been only 6.3 per cent during this fortnight.

COVID 19

India reports over 2.86 lakh new cases with positivity rate at 19.59%; 573 deaths

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India recorded 2,86,384 new cases of the novel coronavirus and 573 deaths due to the infection in the past 24 hours. According to the data shared by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday (January 27), the country saw 3,06,357 discharges in the last 24 hours, taking the total recovery rate at around 93.23 per cent total recoveries data reached 3,76,77,328.

The total active cases of COVID-19 in India have risen to 22,02,472 (5.46 per cent), the ministry data showed today.

The total death toll in the country is now at 4,91,700. The first death due to the COVID pandemic in India was reported in March 2020.

The daily positivity rate is at 19.59 per cent today.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 72,21,66,248 samples have been tested up to January 25 for COVID-19. Of these, 14,62,261 samples were tested on Wednesday.

Also Read: 3 Soldiers Injured In Shopian Gunfight

Meanwhile, Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia on Wednesday sounded positive about the reopening of schools in the capital. He said that ‘excessive caution can harm children, which is why reopening schools is necessary to prevent further damage to the socio-emotional well being of students.

The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has called a meeting on Thursday to deliberate on easing the curbs in the national capital because of the improved situation of COVID-19. The issue of reopening schools is also on the agenda.

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Kashmir

Lt Governor unveils ‘Charkha’ at Srinagar International Airport

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Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today virtually unveiled a Charkha (Spinning Wheel) at the Srinagar International Airport.
The Charkha measuring 8.6 ft by 4.3 ft and weighing 71 kg has been installed by the Jammu & Kashmir Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB).
Speaking on the occasion, the Lt Governor said that Charkha symbolizes Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of Self-Reliance and its installation at Srinagar Airport on Republic Day is a befitting tribute to Bapu and to all the great freedom fighters of India.
“Charkha was made a symbol of economic self-reliance by Bapu in 1918 and became an important part of Swadeshi and Indian Independence movement like Non-violence, Satyagraha and Civil Disobedience”, he added.
Terming the occasion as historic, the Lt Governor said that the Charkha at Srinagar airport will inspire us to encourage greater public participation in the development framework of the UT and to meet the needs of the people by optimally utilizing our social capital and other resources.
“Today, when our country is celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mohatsav and moving steadily towards the fourth industrial revolution, I believe Charkha will serve as a symbol of Atma Nirbhar Bharat campaign of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and will inspire the citizens of the UT and all countrymen to work towards building a self-reliant J&K, and a self-reliant India”, the Lt Governor remarked.
The Lt Governor observed that J&K is making great strides in fulfilling the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s vision of AtmaNirbhar Bharat and keeping with this spirit, continuous efforts are being made for the revival and conservation of Khadi, Rural Arts & Crafts, besides expanding their reach to the international market.
Hon’ble Prime Minister’s slogan – ‘Khadi for Nation, Khadi for Fashion’- has gained greater popularity and now international designers are using Khadi in New York and London fashion shows, he further added.
The Lt Governor also called for collaborative efforts to preserve the identity of the world-famous handicrafts, art and culture of Jammu and Kashmir, on the occasion.
Highlighting the initiatives taken by J&K Khadi and Village Industries Board (KVIB) to create livelihood generation opportunities for the people of the UT, the Lt Governor said that in the last three years, 11,978 units have been established under the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Program and 1,803 units have been established under the Rural Employment Generation Program, besides 4,904 units have also been established for the deprived sections and women.
“Under all these schemes, about 1,50,000 people have been provided with viable employment opportunities”, he noted.
The Lt Governor congratulated Dr Hina Bhatt, Vice-Chairperson, Jammu & Kashmir Khadi and Village Industries Board, and the members and officials of KVIB on this historic occasion.
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Kashmir

Militancy incidents on decline in Pulwama, but local militant recruitment still up: GoC D P Pandey

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General officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based army’s 15 Corps Lieutenant General D P Pandey Wednesday said that the southern district of Pulwama has indeed shown a decline in militancy-related incidents but the district continues to see local militant recruitment on the rise. He said that in the ensuing year, the army believes that Pulwama will see a further dip in local militant recruitment.
As per the news agency, the GoC was on a visit to the southern districts of Shopian and Pulwama on the eve of 73rd Republic Day. He met senior citizens and traders in these twin districts of South Kashmir.
Talking to media persons at Shopian, the GoC said that the people of Kashmir want peace and not militancy. “Militancy related incidents are declining and we believe they will further go down in the ongoing year,” he said.
The army officer said that if the number of militants and militancy-related incidents decline, it will provide more opportunities to local youth to make their future.
“Time has come when people have to choose the path of peace and stability,” he said, adding that the people of South Kashmir like those of north Kashmir have realized the effects of militancy.
The GoC said that the wrong narrative is being taught to children and wherever it happens, youth are bound to choose the wrong path “as it is the easy way out and just a glamour.”
“Youth are picking guns because of unemployment but the wrong path is being shown to them,” Pandey said. He said that the situation was getting better as people, especially youth have understood that taking the path of militancy was wrong.
He said that militancy-related incidents have declined in Pulwama but “local militant recruitment continues to be on the rise.” “We believe this (local militant recruitment) will also go down in the ongoing area,” the GoC said and sought people’s cooperating in bringing peace and development in southern districts of Kashmir
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Covid-19 Stats

27 Jan 2022, 5:57 AM (GMT)

Coronavirus Stats

40,371,500 Total Cases
491,729 Death Cases
37,677,328 Recovered Cases

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