11.05 pm: Mumbai reports 596 new cases, taking its overall count to 2,89,800. Eleven more deaths push the city’s toll to 11,056 deaths.

11.03 pm: Delhi on Friday registers 758 new case, which takes its tally to 6,21,439. The Capital’s toll rises by 30 to 10,414.

6.39 pm: Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar chosen as two locations in Punjab for vaccination dry run, reports ANI, quoting Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner V Sharma. Centre will conduct dry runs in the four states of Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Assam on December 28 and 29.

6.35 pm: Andhra Pradesh reports 355 new cases, taking tally up to 8,80,430, reports ANI.

6.34 pm: Total number of cases in Manipur rises to 27,943, with 67 new infections, reports ANI. Toll stands at 344, with three new deaths.

6.32 pm: Tamil Nadu reports 1,027 new cases, taking total tally up to 8,12,142, reports ANI. Total deaths rise to 12,048, with 12 new fatalities.

6.30 pm: Jammu and Kashmir reports 284 new cases, taking the tally up to 1,19,628, reports ANI. With one new death, the toll has now gone up to 1,861.

6.27 pm: No new cases of detected in Mumbai’s Dharavi area for the first time since outbreak of the pandemic, reports ANI.

5.06 pm: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu meets the chairperson and managing director of Bharat Biotech in Hyderabad.

4.59 pm: Union minister V Muraleedharan says the Kerala government should focus on containing the coronavirus instead of calling an Assembly session to pass a resolution against the farming laws, ANI reports. “Kerala’s death toll is higher than national average,” he says. “It should concentrate on containing it [the coronavirus] instead of focusing on non-issues or issues which aren’t related to the state.”

4.57 pm: Russia on Friday registers 29,018 new cases, which takes its tally to 29,92,706, Reuters reports. The country’s toll rises by 563 to 53,659.

4.49 pm: Ten United Kingdom returnees have tested positive for the coronavirus in Karnataka so far, PTI reports.

3.50 pm: The World Health Organization launches another mobile app that will provide latest Covid-19 guidance and updates, reports NDTV. The world health body had initially introduced its coronavirus-focussed mobile app in April, but had pulled it down soon after its release as it wasn’t meant for public availability.

3.48 pm: South Africa’s health minister rejects his British counterpart’s claim that a new coronavirus variant in the country is more contagious or dangerous than a similar one in spreading in the United Kingdom, reports AFP. “At present, there is no evidence that the 501.V2 (variant) is more transmissible than the United Kingdom variant – as suggested by the British Health Secretary,” Zwelini Mkhize says in a statement.

3.40 pm: Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner V Sharma says a dry run of the coronavirus vaccination drive will be conducted in the city in Punjab from January 27 to January 29, reports ANI. “It will be done using a dummy vaccine,” he adds. “We have 805 service locations for vaccination.”

1.58 pm: Odisha records 325 new coronavirus cases, pushing the tally in the state to 3,27,867, reports PTI.

1.55 pm: The Centre says a dry run has been planned on December 28 and 29 in four states Punjab, Assam, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat to assess the government’s preparation for the coronavirus vaccine drive, reports PTI.

According to the health ministry, the exercise will include necessary data entry in Co-WIN, an online platform for monitoring of vaccine delivery, testing receipt and allocation, deployment of team members, mock drill of session sites with test beneficiaries.

12.19 pm: The United States government has made it mandatory for all airline passengers flying in from the United Kingdom to test negative for the coronavirus within 72 hours of departure, Reuters reports.

12.16 pm: The Delhi High Court on Thursday called the practice of reserving ICU beds in private hospitals for Covid patients “inhumane”, PTI reports. The court said the practice cannot be sustained as the number of coronavirus cases in the Capital has come down. Justice Navin Chawla added that it can be brought back if the positivity rates rises again.

12.05 pm: Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu says the Centre has selected the districts of Ludhiana and Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar to conduct a dry run of the Covid-19 vaccine on December 28 and 29, PTI reports.

“It [the dry run] will provide insights on any gaps or bottlenecks so that those could be addressed before the commencement of the COVID-19 drive,” he says. “The dry run is to be conducted in one or two districts under the overall leadership of the district collector/magistrate.”

Similar exercises are expected to also be conducted in Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Gujarat.

10.02 am: India records 23,067 new coronavirus cases on Friday morning, taking its total to 1,01,46,845. Less than 2.8 lakh of these are active cases, the health ministry says. A total of 1,47,092 people have died of the coronavirus in the country, with 336 of those deaths coming in the last 24 hours, the data shows.

Source: health ministry

9.43 am: The Irish government authorises the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. The first delivery of the vaccine will be on December 26, with the first vaccinations taking place on December 30, the country’s Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says.

9.41 am: A nurse in Mexico became the first person in Latin America to receive a coronavirus jab when her country began its vaccination programme on Thursday, reports BBC. Mexico has received an initial shipment of 3,000 doses of the US-German Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

9.39 am: Jharkhand’s tally of coronavirus cases rises to 1,13,786, after 179 more people tested positive in 24 hours, reports PTI. The toll climbs to 1,016, with two more deaths.

9.36 am: An African-American physician in Indianapolis, United States, has died with Covid-19, weeks after she accused a doctor of denying her proper medical care because of her race, reports BBC. In a video she posted on Facebook from her bed on December 4, at Indiana University Hospital North, Susan Moore said she had to “beg” for treatment.

A statement from the hospital said, “as an organisation committed to equity and reducing racial disparities in healthcare, we take accusations of discrimination very seriously and investigate every allegation”.

9.28 am: A parliamentary panel has recommended that the athletes going for Olympics 2021 and their support staff, including the coaches, should be put in the priority group for receiving vaccination against the coronavirus, reports The Hindu. The Standing Committee on “Education, Women, Children, Youth and Sports”, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, made its submissions in a report to Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu on Thursday.

The committee also directed the government to create bio-bubbles in the training facilities where the athletes can isolate themselves in a secure environment and train with minimal possibility of being infected.

9.26 am: Turkey will receive its first shipment of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine within days as preliminary domestic tests showed it was 91% effective, Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said on Thursday, reports AFP. Ankara in the next few days will also sign a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for 4.5 million doses of its vaccine, with the option to buy 30 million more from the US pharmaceutical giant and its German partner, Koca said

9.23 am: The Indian Council of Medical Research says that indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin, has drawn global attention. “Data generated from within India underlines impressive safety and immunogenicity profile of Covaxin and sparks [the] Lancet’s interest in publishing them,” it says.

9.21 am: The new mutated coronavirus strain found in the United Kingdom appears to be more contagious and will likely lead to higher levels of hospitalisations and deaths next year, a new study shows, reports The Bloomberg.

The variant is 56% more transmissible than other strains, according to the study by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. There is no clear evidence that it results in more or less severe disease.

9.19 am: Sikkim reported 32 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the state’s total to 5,664, reports PTI. The toll from the disease is 125.

9.15 am: India’s Ministry of External Affairs said the country was looking forward to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit next month amid reports suggesting that the trip may not take place as a more infectious strain of the coronavirus was detected in the United Kingdom.

Also read:

India says it is looking forward to Boris Johnson’s visit amid concerns over new virus strain in UK

Here are the top updates from Thursday

  • India temporarily suspended the Vande Bharat repatriation flights from the United Kingdom amid concerns over the new coronavirus variant that has emerged in the country. It is not clear till when the flights have been stopped.
  • Two passengers who arrived in India from the United Kingdom, and left isolation centres after testing positive for the coronavirus at the Delhi airport have been tracked down at their homes in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab. The two have been admitted to government facilities.  
  • The Karnataka government withdrew the night curfew order it had issued on Wednesday, imposing restrictions between 11 pm and 5 am, till January 2.  
  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said 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.