India on Friday morning recorded 10,549 new coronavirus cases, pushing the overall tally of infections to 3,45,55,431 since the pandemic began in January last year. The number of new cases was 15.6% higher than Thursday’s count of 9,119.

The country’s toll rose to 4,67,468 after it recorded 488 more deaths in the last 24 hours. The number of active coronavirus cases in the country stood at 1,10,133.

So far, India has administered over 120.27 crore doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Of these, 83,88,824 shots were administered on Thursday.

(Ministry of Health and Family Welfare)

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation said it was “closely monitoring” a new coronavirus variant detected in South Africa. In a meeting on Friday, the global health body will determine if the strain should be designated as a “variant of interest” or “variant of concern”, reported the Hindustan Times.

South African scientists have detected a new coronavirus variant, called B.1.1.529. On Thursday, the Indian government had advised states and Union Territories to take note of the new variant and asked them to ensure rigorous screening of international travellers.

“This variant is reported to have a significantly high number of mutations, and thus, has serious public health implications for the country, in view of recently relaxed visa restrictions and opening up of international travel,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in a letter to states.

The United Kingdom has said said it would ban travel from six African countries in view of the new variant. All flights from South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana have been suspended from Friday.

State updates

  • At least 66 students of SDM College of Medical Sciences have tested positive for Covid-19 in Karnataka’s Dharwad district, NDTV reported, citing officials. All of them were fully vaccinated against the coronavirus disease.
  • The Delhi High Court said that the decision to administer booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine should not be based on economics and directed the Centre to inform the court about its stand on the matter, reported The Indian Express. The High Court asked why booster shots were not being made available in India when many other countries were encouraging such inoculation.
  • Fifteen more countries have recognised India’s Covid-19 vaccine certificate, said Ministry of External Affair’s spokesperson Arindam Bagchi. These countries are Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Georgia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nepal, Nicaragua, Philippines, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland, Turkey and Ukraine.

Global updates

  • French Health Minister Olivier Veran said that Covid-19 booster shots would be made available to all adults in the country from this weekend to counter a new wave of infections, reported AFP. So far, only people over 65 years, health workers and those with co-morbidities were being given booster shots in France.
  • The European Union’s drug regulator has authorised Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for use among children in the age group of 5-11 years, reported AP.
  • The coronavirus has infected over 26 crore people across the world and caused over 51.81 lakh deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.