10.48 pm: West Bengal reports 2,753 new cases, 2,873 recoveries, and 50 deaths, reports ANI. The overall case count stands at 5,16,505, and the toll is 8,966.

10.44 pm: Arunachal Pradesh reports 18 new cases and 424 recoveries, according to ANI. The overall case count stands at 16,497 including 16,163 recoveries, 279 active cases and 55 deaths

10.43 pm: Maharashtra’s Health Department releases notification to implement the facility of providing blood free of cost to patients receiving treatment at all state-run hospitals from Saturday, reports ANI.

8.56 pm: Maharashtra reports 4,268 new cases, taking the state’s tally up to 18,72,440, reports PTI. With 87 new deaths, the toll goes up to 48,059.

8.52 pm: Gujarat reports 1,223 new coronavirus cases on Friday, reports PTI. The state’s tally goes up to 2,25,304. With 13 new deaths toll goes up to 4,148.

7.07 pm: Delhi reports 2,385 new cases on Friday, reports PTI. The toll stands at 9,934 with 60 more fatalities.

7.05 pm: Air bubble arrangements with Nepal has been finalised, says Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava.

“With this, the total number of countries with which we have such travel arrangements is now 23,” says Srivastava.

5.49 pm: British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca says it will start clinical trials to test a combination of its experimental coronavirus vaccine with Russia’s Sputnik V shot, reports Reuters, citing the Russia’s sovereign wealth fund.

Trials for this will start by the end of the year and Russia wants to jointly produce the new vaccine if it is proven to be effective.

AstraZeneca, in a statement, says it is considering how it could assess combinations of different vaccines, and would soon begin exploring with Russia’s Gamaleya Institute, which developed Sputnik V, if the two common cold virus-based vaccines could be successfully combined.

5.45 pm: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray inaugurates a coronavirus facility in Thane via videoconference, reports PTI. He says there is a possibility of a second wave of infections and that the state machinery is fully prepared to tackle such a scenario.

3.32 pm: Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government will not rush approval of coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology company BioNTech because he wants Australians to have confidence in the product, reports AP. The government expects the Australian regulator to grant approval to the vaccine by late January.

3.30 pm: Bollywood actor Neetu Kapoor tests negative for the coronavirus, her daughter Riddhima Kapoor Sahni says. “Thank you for all your good wishes & prayers – My mother has tested Covid negative today,” she says in an Instagram post.

3.24 pm: Prime Minister Narendra Modi says India and Uzbekistan would boost their relations in post-coronavirus times. “There are remarkable reforms in Uzbekistan under your rule,” he says during his opening remarks at the India-Uzbekistan virtual summit. “We would cement our ties more in the post-Covid times.”

3.19 pm: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says some 39,000 residents of the country stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic have registered to return home, reports PTI. About 10,000, the highest, stranded Australians are in India, Morrison says.

2.52 pm: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma tests positive for coronavirus, goes into home isolation.

2.17 pm: The Delhi High Court seeks AAP government’s response on a plea challenging its decision fixing a cap of Rs 800 on RT-PCR tests for detecting Covid-19 infection in the national Capital.

12.44 pm: The health ministry says India’s active cases have dropped to 3.63 lakh after 146 days. It adds that active cases are now just 3.71% of the total infections.

12.41 pm: Odisha registers 387 new cases on Friday, taking its tally to 3,23,029, ANI reports. The state’s toll rises by four to 1,798.

12.34 pm: France pharmaceutical firm Sanofi and Britain’s GSK say their Covid-19 vaccines will not be ready until the end of 2021 as interim trial results showed an insufficient immune response, Reuters reports.

11.27 am: Mumbai’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation officials say the civi body will set up at least 48 distribution centres across the city for administering Covid-19 vaccines to the over 1.24 crore population once it is available, reports the Hindustan Times.

“We will use a network of our municipal dispensaries, civic hospitals and civic schools where vaccine distribution centres will be set up,” BMC additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani says. “All wards have already identified such spots.”

11.23 am: Odisha government says it is fully prepared for the Covid-19 vaccination process and the logistics system in the state has been set up for smoother inoculation drive, reports ANI.

11.15 am: The Students’ Federation of India, a student organisation affiliated to the Communist Party of India (Marxist), urges the West Bengal government to take steps for resuming classes in colleges and universities in strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols, reports PTI.

11.08 am: Indian Council of Medical Research says it has tested 15,16,32,223 till Wednesday. It says 8,72,497 samples tested were tested on December 10.

11.04 am: Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook says it “seems like” most of the company’s staff would not return to office till June next year, in view of the coronavirus pandemic, reports Bloomberg. “There’s no replacement for face-to-face collaboration, but we have also learned a great deal about how we can get our work done outside of the office without sacrificing productivity or results,” he told the staff.

11.01 am: Medical device company Advanced MedTech Holdings says Singapore approved its Covid-19 kit for use in testing saliva from deep within the throat, reports Reuters. The company says the test is the first of its type to receive approval from Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority.

9.31 am: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath claims the coronavirus vaccine is only a month away and that the state has already contained the infection, reports ANI. “Developed countries like the US registered a Covid-19 death rate of about 8%, but Uttar Pradesh only saw 1.04% of Covid-19 deaths,” he adds.

9.20 am: India registers 29,398 Covid-19 cases, taking the tally in the country to 97,96,769, accroding to Union Health Ministry data. The toll climbs to 1,42,186 with 414 more fatalities. There are 3,63,749 active cases and 92,90,834 recoveries.

9.15 am: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday said that government should distribute the coronavirus vaccine, when developed, to the poor and disadvantaged for free but those who are capable should pay for it, reports the Hindustan Times.

9.08 am: An advisory panel of the United States Food and Drug Administration approves the emergency use authorisation of a Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, reported Reuters.

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9 am: Here are the top updates from Thursday

  • India on Thursday morning registered 31,521 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 97,67,371. The toll rose to 1,41,772 with 412 more deaths. More than 92.5 lakh people have recovered from the disease so far. The active cases stood at 3,72,293 – a record low. The daily count of infection is marginally lower than Wednesday.  
  • Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee said that the coronavirus pandemic turned out to be a “wasted crisis” for the Indian economy, suggesting that there was scope for a more significant fiscal push from the government.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he intends to take the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available and he will do so publicly.  
  • Britain’s medicine regulator warned anyone with a history of anaphylaxis to a medicine or food to not get the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by pharmaceutical company Pfizer and biotechnology firm BioNTech. Anaphylaxis is an overreaction of the body’s immune system, which the United Kingdom’s National Health Service describes as severe and sometimes life-threatening, according to Reuters.
  • The Haryana government on Thursday decided to reopen schools for Class 10 and 12 students from December 14. The schools will run for three hours from 10 am to 1 pm.
  • Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 6.88 crore people and killed over 15.68 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Over 4.43 crore people have recovered from the infection.