Centre extends COVID-19 surveillance guidelines till January 31
The Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday extended guidelines for COVID-19 surveillance, containment, and caution till January 31, 2021. The guidelines, issued last month, were originally meant to remain effective until December 31, 2020. The extension comes amid global panic over the emergence of a new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus, which has already spread to multiple countries. Here are more details.
Guidelines extended due to new variant of virus: Home Ministry
The Home Ministry said in a statement that while there has been a "continuous decline" in the number of active infections and new cases of COVID-19, there is a need to extend the guidelines due to the emergence of a new variant of the virus in the United Kingdom. Under the guidelines, the Ministry said that containment zones will continue to be demarcated carefully.
What do the guidelines say?
The guidelines urged states and union territories to enforce COVID-19 appropriate behavior, such as wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and social distancing. Face masks and maintaining a six feet distance from others in public remains mandatory. Containment zones will be demarcated by district authorities at the "micro-level." All activities remain permitted outside containment zones, barring some restrictions regarding public gatherings, cinema halls, schools, etc.
India gears up for vaccination drive
The government is looking forward to launching a massive COVID-19 vaccination drive early next year. A two-day dry run to check the preparedness of health authorities for vaccine delivery was started Monday in four states. Covishield, the vaccine developed by the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Oxford University and AstraZeneca, is reportedly expected to be granted emergency approval in the coming days.
SII has 40-50 million Covishield doses stockpiled: CEO
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Monday that they have 40-50 million doses of Covishield stockpiled. "Once we get regulatory approvals in a few days, it'll be down to the government to decide how much they can take and how fast," he said, adding that the institute will develop 300 million doses by July 2021. He said the vaccine's rollout is expected in January.
How bad is the outbreak in India?
As of Monday morning, India reported a total of 10,207,871 COVID-19 cases, with 20,021 new cases being recorded over a 24-hour period. The total cases include 2,77,301 active cases, while 97,82,669 patients have recovered. The death toll has risen to 1,47,901 with 279 fresh fatalities. India is the world's second worst-hit country in the outbreak after the United States.