India reported 2,539 fresh COVID cases on Thursday, taking the total COVID tally in the country to 4,30,01,477.
The active cases declined to 30,799, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated by 8 am on Friday.
The death toll due to the virus increased to 5,16,132 with 60 fresh fatalities, according to the ministry data.
“A reduction of 1,106 cases has been recorded in the active COVID-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours,” the Health Ministry said.
The recovery rate in India has increased to 98.72 per cent and the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.20 per cent.
West Bengal vaccination drive
The West Bengal government will roll out the inoculation drive for children in the 12-14 years age group from March 21, even as the programme was launched across the country on Wednesday.
The launch of the vaccination drive in the state got delayed as “the administration received the standard operating procedures from the Centre late”, an official said.
“The beneficiaries would be administered only Corbevax and they can book their slots online though the facility of on-site registration will also be available,” a state government notification said on Thursday.
“COVID-19 vaccination for children in the age group of 12-14 years will start from March 21. Only Corbevax vaccine would be used for the beneficiaries,” the notification issued by the state Health Department said.
“The Corbevax will be given from government vaccine centres only. Two doses of it will be given at an interval of 28 days,” the notification stated.
Cases surge in China
Meanwhile, according to official data, China reported 2,388 new COVID-19 cases in a day on Thursday, almost double of the cases reported on Wednesday, as the country battles its biggest outbreak, since 2020.
The number of domestically transmitted asymptomatic cases, which China does not classify as confirmed cases, stood at 1,742 on Thursday, up from 1,206 a day earlier.
Canada drops mandatory COVID negative certificate
The Canadian government announced that it is dropping the requirement for vaccinated travellers to show a negative COVID-19 test result to enter the country.
Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said that tests will no longer be needed beginning April 1.
Currently, fully vaccinated travellers entering Canada must present proof of a negative result from a professionally administered antigen test. The antigen test replaced the more costly and time-consuming molecular test in February.
Guy Occhiogrosso, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Bellingham Regional Chamber of Commerce in Washington state near the border with British Columbia, said that the tests discouraged Canadians crossing into the U.S. for holidays and day shopping trips. He estimated that some local retail businesses saw a 30 per cent drop in business due to a lack of Canadian travellers.
Meanwhile in USA, drugmaker Moderna has asked the Food and Drug Administration to authorize a fourth shot of its COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose for all adults.
The request is broader than rival pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s request for the regulator to approve a booster shot for all seniors earlier this week.
In a press release, the company said that its request for approval for all adults was made “to provide flexibility to the Center’s for Disease Control and Prevention and medical providers to determine the appropriate use of a second booster dose of the mRNA vaccine, including for those at higher risk of COVID-19 due to age or comorbidities.”
U.S. officials have been laying the groundwork to deliver additional booster doses to shore up the vaccine’s protection against COVID-19.
(With inputs from Agencies)