Coronavirus live updates | In reversal, FDA puts brakes on COVID shots for kids under five

Canada to make changes to COVID border restrictions next week, says official

Fully vaccinated international passengers from 82 countries will be permitted quarantine-free entry from February 14, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Thursday.

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the updates:

WHO chief praises South Africa’s work to make COVID vaccines

South Africa’s efforts to produce vaccines are key to helping the African continent become more self-sufficient in inoculations to combat COVID-19 and many other diseases, the visiting chief of the World Health Organization said Friday.

On his visit to Cape Town, WHO director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus is viewing three facilities that are starting work to manufacture vaccines.

Tedros visited the Biomedical Research Institute at the Tygerberg campus of Stellenbosch University on Friday. He is also scheduled to visit Afrigen Biologics & Vaccines and the Biovac laboratories in Cape Town. – AP

Canada to make changes to COVID border restrictions next week: official

Canada is reviewing its pandemic-related border restrictions and will likely announce changes next week, as the worst of a Omicron variant-driven wave appears to have passed, Canada’s health minister said on Friday.

"With the worst of Omicron now behind us, our government is actively reviewing the measures in place at our borders and we should be able to communicate changes on this next week," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told reporters.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation earlier reported the federal government was close to removing mandatory COVID-19 PCR testing for fully vaccinated Canadians who travel outside Canada. – Reuters

In reversal, FDA puts brakes on COVID shots for kids under five

COVID-19 vaccinations for children under five hit another monthslong delay Friday as U.S. regulators abruptly put the brakes on their efforts to speed review of the shots that Pfizer is testing for youngsters.

The Food and Drug Administration, worried about the omicron variant’s toll on kids, had taken the extraordinary step of urging Pfizer to apply for OK of the extra-low dose vaccine before it’s clear if tots will need two shots or three. The agency’s plan could have allowed vaccinations to begin within weeks.

But Friday, the FDA reversed course and said it had become clear the agency needed to wait for data on how well a third shot works for the youngest age group. Pfizer said in a statement that it expected the data by early April. – AP

New Zealand protesters rally against COVID curbs for a fifth day

Protesters against New Zealand’s vaccination mandates and tough COVID-19 restrictions gathered outside parliament in the capital Wellington for a fifth day on Saturday despite forecasts of drenching rain.

Police have put up new barriers on parliament grounds and said they would maintain a strong presence to assure peaceful demonstrations.

Inspired by truckers’ demonstrations in Canada, the protesters are increasingly occupying the surrounding streets with their trucks, cars, camper vans and motorcycles as more people come in from other parts of the country. – Reuters

China gives conditional approval for Pfizer’s COVID drug Paxlovid

China’s medical products regulator said on February 11 it has given conditional approval for Pfizer’s COVID-19 medicine Paxlovid to treat adults with mild to moderate disease who have high risk of progressing to a severe condition.

The National Medical Products Administration said further study on the drug needed to be conducted and submitted to the authority. – Reuters

No need of negative RT-PCR certificate for passengers coming from Maharashtra to Karnataka

Passengers coming from Maharashtra to Karnataka, through all modes of transportation, no longer need a negative RT-PCR report. Following the State’s COVID-19 Technical Advisory Committee’s (TAC) recommendation, Karnataka on Friday relaxed this rule. However, carrying a double dose vaccine certificate is mandatory.

In a circular issued on Friday, T.K. Anil Kumar, Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare) the rule has been relaxed in view of the current COVID-19 situation. With a gradual decline in cases in Maharashtra, the TAC had last week recommended that Karnataka should stop insisting on negative RT-PCR reports from Maharashtra travellers. TAC members had deliberated on this issue at its 153rd meeting held recently.

TAC chairman M.K. Sudharshan said people travelling from Maharashtra to Karnataka are actually coming from a low burden State to one with a higher positivity rate. “As on February 6, the test positivity rate (TPR) in Maharashtra was 7.34%, while for Mumbai it was less than 1.41%. Whereas it was 6.51% in Karnataka and 7.56% in Bengaluru. At this juncture, there is no point in asking passengers from Maharashtra to carry negative reports,” he said.

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COVID cases, positivity lowest in over a month in Delhi

The downward trend in COVID-19 continue in the city with the test positivity rate (TPR) falling below the 2% mark after over a month to 1.73% on Friday, according to a Delhi government bulletin.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours also fell below the 1,000 mark after more than a month to 977 on Friday. The number of tests increased to 56,444 from 52,848 a day earlier.

Twelve new deaths were reported, taking the total deaths to 26,047. Of the total 15,375 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients, 95.66% were vacant.

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