After a three-week delay, a massive logistical mission and a handful of health scares, a very different Australian Open gets underway on Monday, February 8, 2021, with pandemic protocols providing a backdrop of caution to the action on court.
Here are the latest updates:
TN schools gear up for classesh 9, 11
School Education Director S. Kannappan said that schools have been asked to continue implementing the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for COVID-19 safety protocols, issued ahead of the reopening in January. “Additionally we have told schools that do not have enough teachers or classrooms to accommodate their students in smaller batches to explore the option of having classes on alternate days or in a shift system. Schools are permitted to work six days a week,” he said.
South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccinations over variant data
South Africa will suspend use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot in its vaccination programme after data showed it gave minimal protection against mild to moderate infection caused by the country’s dominant coronavirus variant.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday the government would await advice from scientists on how best to proceed, after disappointing results in a trial conducted by the University ofthe Witwatersrand.
Kerala saw more home deaths in 2020
Even when the Kerala government has sought solace in the apparent reduction in all-cause mortality in the State in 2020 as an affirmation of the excellent COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 care provided during the pandemic, the civil registrations data does not tell the full story.
Analysis of the State’s birth and death registrations for 2020 shows that except in two districts, there is an unusual increase in the proportion of the people who died at home during 2020, both in urban and rural areas. The data throws open the question of whether COVID-19 led to the denial of medical care to the elderly and terminally ill in the pandemic year. The attention of the public health system had veered towards COVID-19 care all through 2020 and it’s probably the other side of the story that is being revealed.
Need to be on alert for coronavirus mutations: scientists
COVID-19 cases are declining along with incidence of hospitalisation and deaths in most places across the country. Yet, scientists have cautioned people not to let their guard down but continue to follow safety measures of wearing face masks, and maintaining personal hygiene and social distancing.
“All indications are that the number of cases are becoming less and less, even if factoring the rapid antigen testing which has just about 50-60% accuracy. Importantly, the number of patients in hospitals are less and the number of deaths too has come down as is being indicated by sero-surveillance surveys. But, we need to be alert for any further mutations which could lead to more viral loads and infections,” says CSIR-Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology director Rakesh Mishra.
Indian research on COVID mutation
Indian researchers find why variant with D614G mutation spread faster in the West
Kalyani-based scientists have found the biological mechanism behind the significantly faster spread of a variant with D614G mutation in Europe and North America but not in East Asia.
The variant with the D614G mutation seeded large outbreaks in Europe in early 2020 and subsequently dominated the outbreaks in North America, thereby largely replacing previously circulating lineages. The variant also spread worldwide.
A team led by Dr. Nidhan K. Biswas and Dr. Partha Majumdar from the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, Kalyani found that the variant with the D614G mutation introduced an additional cleavage site on the ACE-2 receptor for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to gain entry into cells.
(With inputs from our Correspondents, agencies)