11.03 pm: The Centre chooses Punjab to conduct a “dry run” for the coronavirus vaccine at five places on December 28 and 29, ANI reports.

9.13 pm: India temporarily suspends the Vande Bharat repatriation flights from the United Kingdom amid concerns over the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in the country ANI reports. Its not clear till when the flights have been stopped.

Also read: Covid-19: India suspends flights from UK till December 31 amid concern over virus mutation

9.08 pm: Maharashtra’s coronavirus tally rises to 19,09,951 as it reports 3,580 new cases on Thursday. The state records 89 more deaths.

9.05 pm: Delhi on Thursday registers 1,063 new coronavirus cases, which take its tally to 6,20,681. The Capital’s toll rises by 37 to 10,384.

6.39 pm: UK reports 744 deaths due to coronavirus on Wednesday, the highest single-day number since April, reports IANS.

6.29 pm: Moderna says it expects that the immunity induced by its Covid-19 vaccine would be protective against the coronavirus variant reported in the United Kingdom, reports Reuters.

5.37 pm: The Karnataka government withdraws night curfew order, a day after it was issued, reports ANI. The state had announced a curfew at night from December 24 to January 2 between 11 pm and 5 am, amid fears of a new coronavirus strain from the United Kingdom.

4.11 pm: Ludhiana additional deputy commissioner says that a person who went missing from Delhi airport after returning from the United Kingdom and admitted himself to Fortis Hospital in the Punjab city has been sent to Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital in the national Capital, reports ANI. Action will be taken against Fortis Hospital for not informing the district administration.

4 pm: China will suspend direct flights to and from the United Kingdom indefinitely over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus, reports Reuters, quoting the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

3.58 pm: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath directs authorities to maintain extra vigil, especially at airports, amid concerns over new strain of coronavirus spreading in the United Kingdom, reports PTI.

3.57 pm: India’s economy pulling out of the Covid-19 crisis at a faster pace than most predictions, says Reserve Bank of India in its monthly bulletin for December.

1.32 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal says his government has completed preparations for vaccinating 51 lakh people including healthcare and frontline workers, who will be given the shot in the first phase, reports ANI.

“We would need 1.02 crore doses of vaccine for the first phase of vaccination since each person will get two doses,” says Kejriwal. “Currently, we have the capacity to store 74 lakh doses which will be increased to 1.15 crore within one week.”

1.29 pm: Karnataka allows Christmas mass in Bengaluru tonight, reports ANI.

1.28 pm: Telangana reports 574 new cases, taking the tally up to 2,83,556, reports ANI. The toll stands at 1,524, with two new fatalities.

1.26 pm: Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says the national Capital recorded 871 fresh cases on Wednesday, making it the third straight day with less than 1,000 new infections, reports ANI.

1.23 pm: Delhi health department asks Lok Nayak Hospital to set up a separate isolation unit for people testing positive after returning from the United Kingdom, reports ANI.

1.21 pm: Uttarakhand High Court seeks state state government’s response on steps taken to ensure that gatherings do not take place on Christmas and New Year eve in Dehradun, Nainital and Mussorie, reports ANI. The court has also asked the government to impose nigh curfew in Nainital on December 31.

1.16 pm: Kerala government moves Supreme Court challenging the state high court’s direction to increase the number of pilgrims to Sabarimala Temple to 5,000 per day, reports PTI. The government had earlier set the number of pilgrims to 2,000 on weekdays and 3,000 on weekends.

1.13 pm: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to chair meeting with Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and the health secretary to review vaccine preparedness in the national Capital, reports ANI.

11.04 am: The Delhi Health Department asks the Lok Nayak Hospital to set up a separate isolation unit for people who test positive upon their return from the United Kingdom, where a new strain of the coronavirus has been found, reports ANI.

11.03 am: A 28-year-old man who recently returned from the United Kingdom tested positive for coronavirus in Nagpur in Maharashtra, reports PTI. “The person concerned on his own informed us about his travel history to the United Kingdom,” Nagpur Municipal Corporation Commissioner Radhakrishnan B tells PTI. “He returned to Nagpur from the UK 15 days back.”

10.58 am: A survey conducted to understand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting restrictions on senior citizens revealed that one in three of them feared they would contract the disease, and 29% were affected by social isolation, reports the Hindustan Times. The study conducted by Antara, an integrated service provider for senior care needs, surveyed senior citizens from the north, south and west of India.

10.54 am: Facebook bans Australian celebrity chef and conspiracy theorist Pete Evans for repeatedly spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, reports AFP. With more than a million social media followers, Evans had been an influential promoter of conspiracy theories about the pandemic and vaccines.

10.51 am: The police of Pune in Maharashtra denied permission to retired judge BG Kolse Patil to hold a cultural event at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch on December 31, citing Covid-19 restrictions, reports PTI. Patil was one of the organisers of the Elgar Parishad event in December 2017, which is being investigated by the National Investigation Agency for allegedly fuelling caste-based violence in Bhima Koregaon in 2018.

10.48 am: The Uttarakhand High Court asks the state government to apprise it of the steps taken to ensure no public gatherings take place on Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Dehradun, Nainital and Mussoorie, reports ANI. The court further directs the government to impose a night curfew in Nainital – a popular tourist destination – on December 25 and December 31.

9.35 am: India records 24,712 new coronavirus cases, taking its tally to 1,01,23,778. With 312 deaths, the toll is at 1,46,756. As many as 96,93,173 people have recovered from the infection. The country has 2,83,849 active cases, according to the health ministry data.

8.50 am: The University of Oxford and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca have applied to the UK health regulator for permission to roll out their coronavirus vaccine in the country, reports AFP.

8.55 am: More than a million people in the United States have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, reports Reuters, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

8.42 am: Britain has also announced restrictions on travel from South Africa, reports AFP. “This new variant is highly concerning, because it is yet more transmissible, and it appears to have mutated further than the new variant that has been discovered in the UK,” the health secretary, while announcing the immediate curbs, said.

8.40 am: British Health Secretary Matt Hancock has announced that a new, potentially more infectious variant of the coronavirus from South Africa has been detected in the UK, reports Reuters.

“Thanks to the impressive genomic capability of the South Africans, we’ve detected two cases of another new variant of coronavirus here in the UK,” Hancock told a press briefing. “Both are contacts of cases who have travelled from South Africa over the past few weeks.”

On Friday, South African officials had announced the discovery of a new strain of the coronavirus, which includes several changes in the part of the virus that allows it to attach to human cells.

A quick look at the updates from Wednesday:

  • India’s coronavirus tally on Wednesday morning rose to 1,00,99,066 after 23,950 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours. The country’s toll went up by 333 to 1,46,444. As many as 96,63,382 people have recovered from the infection.
  • The Karnataka government imposed night curfew in the state till January 2. The restrictions will begin on Thursday and stay in effect between 11 pm and 5 am.
  • The Delhi High Court directed the Aam Aadmi party government to frame standard operating procedures to deal with post-coronavirus complications.
  • Antarctica, once the only continent not to be affected by the coronavirus, recorded its first cases, after 36 people stationed at a Chilean research base tested positive.
  • Congress MP Rahul Gandhi asked why the Centre had not yet approved or finalised a deal for administering a coronavirus vaccine in the country, pointing out that other nations have already begun the immunisation process.
  • The Tamil Nadu government granted permission to hold Jallikattu, a popular bull-taming sport held during Pongal, across the state despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, the government announced certain restrictions.