Latest News LIVE: India’s Covid death count increased to 1,52,718. (File)

New Delhi:

The UK coronavirus strain has been detected in at least 60 countries, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, 10 more than a week ago.

With the global death count now well past two million, and new variants of the virus causing deep concern, countries across the world are grappling with how to slow infections until vaccines become widely available.

The South African strain, which like the UK one is believed to be more infectious, has now been reported in 23 countries and territories, the WHO also announced in its weekly update.

With 13,823 infections reported in a day, India’s COVID-19 caseload rose to 1,05,95,660, while the recoveries surged to 1,02,45,741, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday. The death count due to the disease increased to 1,52,718 in the country as 162 new fatalities were recorded, the ministry data updated at 8 am showed.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court today slammed critics of an expert panel – formed last week to resolve the farmers-centre deadlock over the three contentious agricultural laws – and said the committee has no power to decide on the legislations. “We gave (the committee the) power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? (There is) no need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on (the) court,” Chief Justice SA Bobde said today.

The top court also asked the government to respond to a petition seeking reconstitution of its committee. Last week, the top court had paused the implementation of the laws as thousands of farmers continue to camp near Delhi borders, demanding repeal of the legislations.

Here are the LIVE updates:Coronavirus LIVE Updates: Vaccines Sent By India Reach Bhutan And Maldives

Bhutan and Maldives on Wednesday became the first two countries to receive COVID-19 vaccines sent by India in sync with its “neighbourhood first” policy.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar shared on Twitter photos of the consignments reaching the two countries.

On Tuesday, India had said it would send COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday.

The supplies to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius will commence after confirmation of necessary regulatory clearances.

It is learnt that 1,50,000 doses of Covisheild vaccine, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), were sent to Bhutan and 1,00,000 doses reached Maldives as part of India’s grant assistance.

“Indian vaccines reach Maldives, reflects our special friendship,” Mr Jaishankar tweeted along with a photograph of the consignments.

“#VaccineMaitri begins. Consignment arrives in Bhutan. Another example of #NeighbourhoodFirst,” he said in another tweet.

Indian vaccines reach Maldives, reflects our special friendship.

– Dr. S. Jaishankar (@DrSJaishankar) January 20, 2021Joe Biden To End Trump’s ‘Muslim Travel Ban’, Halt Border Wall On Day 1

US President-elect Joe Biden plans to kick off his new administration Wednesday with orders to restore the United States to the Paris climate accord and the World Health Organization, aides said.

Biden will sign 17 orders and actions hours after being sworn in as US leader to break from policies of departing President Donald Trump and set new paths on immigration, the environment, fighting Covid-19 and the economy, they said.

In first-day moves, he will end Trump’s much-assailed ban on visitors from several majority-Muslim countries and halt construction of the wall that Trump ordered on the US-Mexico border to stem illegal immigration.

Coronavirus Latest News: Pfizer Vaccine Likely To Protect Against UK Covid Variant, Shows Study

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is likely to protect against a more infectious variant of the virus, which was discovered in Britain and has spread around the world, according to results of further lab tests released on Wednesday.

The encouraging results, based on an analysis of blood of participants in trials, are based on more extensive analysis than those released by the US drugmaker last week.

Last week, Pfizer said a similar laboratory study showed the vaccine was effective against one key mutation, called N501Y, found in both of the highly transmissible new variants spreading in Britain and South Africa.

Coronavirus Latest News: Beijing Records First UK Variant Cases: City Health Offcials

Beijing health officials on Wednesday said two cases of Covid-19 found in the capital were the highly-transmissible UK variant of the virus, as five neighbourhoods were locked down in the south of the city.

The cases in Daxing district were “considered to be variants of the new coronavirus discovered in the UK”, the head of the Beijing health authority Pang Xinghuo told reporters.

“Formidable Competitors On Field, Solid Partners Off It”: PM Modi To Australian PM After Test Win
India and Australia are formidable competitors on the field, and solid partners off it, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today, replying to a congratulatory message by his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on the Indian cricket team’s Test series triumph Down Under.

The Indian team, led by Ajinkya Rahane, braved all odds to defeat a full-strength Australia by three wickets at the Gabba in Brisbane to win the four-Test series 2-1 and retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy on Tuesday.

“Congratulations @narendramodi and the Indian Cricket Team on a great win in the test series here in Australia. It was a hard fought contest between the game’s best teams and players,” Prime Minister Morrison tweeted.

Farmers’ Republic Day Tractor Rally: Centre Says Police Will Decide
The Supreme Court today said it will not pass orders on the planned tractor rally on Republic Day in New Delhi since it is the police that must decide on these matters. Thousands of farmers were scheduled to hold such a parade in the national capital in the event of the failure of talks with the Central government over the three new contentions agricultural laws. Following the top court’s stand on the issue, the Union government said it will leave it for Delhi police to decide on the event.

The court was hearing a plea from the Central government asking it to order the farmers not to carry out the tractor rally amid the Republic Day celebrations. The court allowed the Centre to withdraw its plea and put the onus on Delhi Police.  

“We see it as irregular and improper to allow or disallow any rally or procession. The norm is it is police matter. The police decides it. We are not going to pass the order,” a Supreme Court bench said today. Read

Farm Laws Panel Has No Power To Decide, Where is Bias? Supreme Court
A panel formed to negotiate with farmers protesting near Delhi borders against the three contentious agricultural laws amid deadlock with centre has no power to decide, the Supreme Court said today. The top court also asked the government to respond to a petition seeking reconstitution of its committee.

Protesters and several opposition parties – including the Akali Dal – had raised objections saying the four members of the panel had earlier expressed views in favour of the controversial legislation

Trump Pardons 73 Including Ex-Aide Steve Bannon, Not Himself Or Family
US President Donald Trump granted clemency to former White House aide Steve Bannon as part of a wave of pardons and commutations issued in his final hours in office, but did not pardon himself, members of his family or lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Trump leaves office on Wednesday, when Joe Biden is sworn in as the nation’s next president. White House officials had argued to Trump that he should not pardon himself or his family because it might look like they are guilty of crimes, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Bannon, who was a key adviser in Trump’s 2016 presidential run, was charged last year with swindling the president’s own supporters over an effort to raise private funds to build the president’s wall on the US-Mexico border. He has pleaded not guilty. Read

Farmers’ tractor rally: Supreme Court says not for it to pass orders, leaves it to police to decide
Supreme Court today said that it will leave the decision of allowing or barring farmers’ tractor rally on January 26 to administration.

13 Dead, 18 Injured In Road Accident In West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri
At least 13 people died in an accident in Dhupguri city of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal on Tuesday night. The accident happened due to low visibility. Around 18 people have been injured in the accident and have been admitted to a hospital.

“A vehicle collided head-on with a boulder loaded truck whose driver lost control of the vehicle and hit the divider and slipped towards its right side. Two other vehicles coming from the wrong side collided into the body of the truck due to which boulders loaded in the vehicle fell on them. Another small lorry in front of the truck was also damaged. In all, four vehicles got damaged,” Sumant Roy, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Jalpaiguri said.

The police officer said that the circle inspector of Dhupguri and his team reached the accident spot within 10 minutes of the incident. Sumant Roy said that several cranes were called in to clear the road.     

Jack Ma, Missing For Months, Emerges for First Time Since China Crackdown
Alibaba and Ant co-founder Jack Ma has resurfaced after months out of public view, quashing intense speculation about the plight of the billionaire grappling with escalating scrutiny over his internet empire.

China’s most recognizable entrepreneur addressed scores of teachers on an online conference Wednesday, part of an annual event the billionaire hosts to recognize the achievements of rural educators. His appearance, first reported in a local blog, was confirmed by people familiar with the matter.


13,823 Fresh COVID-19 Cases In India, 37.3% Higher Than Yesterday
India ha reported 13,823 fresh COVID-19 cases, 37.3% higher than yesterday; 1.05 crore total cases, 1,52,718 deaths: Health Ministry Gujarat To Rename Dragon Fruit As “Kamalam”
The dragon fruit will be known as “Kamalam” in Gujarat as the original name “is associated with China”, Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Tuesday.

“The State government has decided to rename Dragon Fruit. As the outer shape of the fruit resembles a lotus, hence Dragon Fruit shall be renamed as Kamalam,” the Chief Minister was quoted by news agency ANI as saying.

“The name of dragon fruit associated with China and we have changed it,” he added.

“Kamalam” is Sanskrit for the Lotus. It is also the name of the BJP office in Gujarat.

Over the past few years, Dragon Fruit has become a popular addition to the diet in the state and is grown mainly in Bhuj, Gandhidham and Mandvi.

Ivanka Trump’s Farewell Message Has A Good Word For Joe Biden
US President Donald Trump’s daughter and advisor Ivanka Trump shared a farewell message today saying Americans must pray for the Joe Biden administration’s success as the family vacates the White House. The message comes close in heels to her father’s message where he wished success to the new administration for the first time.

In a statement shared on Twitter, she wished luck to Joe Biden and his number 2 Kamala Harris and their spouses and staff by saying, “May God give wisdom, courage and strength” to them.

“As Americans we must all pray for their success,” Ms Trump said. Read

Maldives, Nepal Among 6 Nations To Get Vaccines From India From Today
India, one of the world’s leading drugmakers, on Tuesday said it will provide COVID-19 vaccines under grant assistance to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles from Wednesday, and that shipments will be sent to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius as well on receipt of necessary regulatory clearances.

In a tweet, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India is deeply honoured to be a “long-trusted” partner in meeting the healthcare needs of the global community and that supplies of the vaccines to several countries will commence on Wednesday, and more will follow in the days ahead.

India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.

Trump, On Last Day In Office , Says “Pray” For Joe Biden’s Success
An emotional President-elect Joe Biden flew to Washington Tuesday on the eve of his inauguration, as his predecessor Donald Trump — who will snub Biden’s swearing-in — for the first time wished success to the new administration.Tears rolled down Biden’s cheeks at a farewell ceremony in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, where he paid tribute to his late son and rising politician Beau, before catching a plane to the capital.

“Excuse the emotion, but when I die, Delaware will be written on my heart,” Biden said. “I only have one regret, that he’s not here, because we should be introducing him as president.”

Trump, who has not appeared in public for a week, broke days of silence with a videoed farewell address which the White House said would be released later in the day.

France registers 23,608 new COVID-19 cases, 656 deaths

France registered 23,608 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, bringing its accumulative total since the outbreak of the epidemic to 2,938,333, data from the health authorities showed on Tuesday.

Now France has recorded the world’s sixth-highest tally of COVID-19 cases after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom.

In one day, the respiratory illness had claimed 369 lives in hospitals and 287 in nursing homes. The combined number of fatalities caused by the coronavirus so far in the country stood at 71,342, according to figures posted on the government data website.

Admissions to hospital fell by 52 to 25,567 while those in intensive care units increased by 26 to 2,839.

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