India reported 8,774 new COVID-19 cases and 621 related fatalities on Saturday, pushing the overall cases tally to 3,45,72,523 and the death count to 4,68,554. Besides, 9,481 recoveries were also reported during the previous 24 hours. The recovery rate now stands at 98.34 per cent, the highest since March 2020. At little over a lakh, active cases in the country stand at 1,05,069.
Meanwhile, reports of a new Covid variant, named 'Omicron' by the WHO and declared as a variant of concern, which was first detected in South Africa, has triggered concerns across the world, with several countries imposing travel bans on multiple southern African nations.
The new strain has already been detected in several European countries, including UK, Germany, Italy, and Czech Republic. The variant is said to be much more infectious than the Delta variant and the "most heavily mutated" version of coronavirus discovered so far.
Here are the highlights on Coronavirus cases:
With Odisha registering 150 fresh COVID-19 cases from various educational institutions and some countries reporting a new coronavirus variant, the state government on Sunday asked district collectors to take proactive measures to prevent the possible third wave of the pandemic.
Chief Secretary SC Mohapatra issued the direction in this regard after reviewing the COVID situation, and the emergence of the new Omicron strain.
Britain has recorded the third case of the newly identified Omicron coronavirus variant, the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday, adding that the individual, who was no longer in Britain, was linked to travel to Southern Africa, reported news agency Reuters.
UKHSA said that while in Britain, the individual was in Westminster in central London.
"Our advanced sequencing capabilities enable us to find variants and take rapid action to limit onward spread," Jenny Harries, chief executive of UKHSA, said in a statement.
"It is very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days as we are seeing in other countries globally and as we increase case detection through focused contact tracing."
Morocco will halt incoming passenger flights for two weeks starting Monday night amid concern over the spread of a new, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant dubbed Omicron, a government committee said.
"The decision has been taken because of the quick spread of the new Covid variant, Omicron, namely in Europe and Africa, and in order... to protect the health of Moroccan citizens," the committee tasked with overseeing Morocco's Covid response said in a statement.
Mumbai on Sunday reported 217 fresh coronavirus positive cases and four fatalities, taking the tally of infections to 7,62,616 and the toll to 16,330, the city civic body said.
A total of 247 patients recovered during the day, raising the number of recoveries in the Maharashtra capital to 7,41,500 at a recovery rate of 97 per cent, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said in a statement.
Delhi on Sunday recorded 32 fresh COVID-19 cases and one death, while the positivity rate stood at 0.06 per cent, according to health department data.
The national capital has recorded six deaths due to the viral disease so far this month. Four people had succumbed to COVID-19 in October and five in September.
With the new cases, the coronavirus infection tally of the city climbed to 14,40,866. Over 14.15 lakh patients have recovered from the disease, according to the health bulletin.
Dutch health authorities said on Sunday they had found at least 13 cases of the new Omicron strain among 61 quarantined passengers who tested positive for coronavirus after arriving from South Africa.
"The Omicron variant has so far been identified in 13 of the positive tests. The investigation has not yet been completed. The new variant may be found in more test samples," the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM) said in a statement.
Dutch authorities began testing for the Omicron variant after 61 out of 600 passengers on board two flights from South Africa to Amsterdam on Friday tested positive for Covid-19.
Kerala on Sunday recorded 4,350 fresh COVID-19 infections and 159 fatalities, which raised the total caseload to 51,21,880 and the toll to 39,838.
With 5,691 more people recovering from the virus since Saturday, the total recoveries reached 50,46,219 and the active cases dropped to 47,001, a state government press release said.
Among the 14 districts, Ernakulam recorded the highest with 823 cases, followed by Thiruvananthapuram (670) and Kozhikode (554).
Sixty two inmates of an old age home in Maharashtra's Thane district have tested positive for the coronavirus infection and all of them have been admitted to a civil hospital here, a senior health official said on Sunday.
Following complaints of ill-health by a couple of inmates, a team of doctors on Saturday tested 109 inmates of the ''Matoshree'' old age home located at Khadavali in Bhiwandi taluka, district health officer Dr Manish Renge told PTI. n
The new 'Omicron' coronavirus variant kept spreading around the world on Sunday, with two cases detected in Australia, even as more countries tried to seal themselves off by imposing travel restrictions, reported news agency Reuters.
Health officials in Australia's most populous state, New South Wales, said two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday evening had tested positive for the 'Omicron' variant of the coronavirus.
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said he has been regularly monitoring the COVID-19 situation in the state and there has been no significant jump in cases, reported news agency PTI.
He also said authorities are alert in the wake of the new Covid-19 variant ''Omicron'' reported in some countries.
Odisha on Sunday registered 191 new infections, 73 less than the previous day, taking the state's caseload to 10,48,683 while one more fatality pushed the coronavirus death count to 8,407, a health department official said.
The two South African nationals who tested positive for COVID-19 were found to be infected with the delta variant, an official said.
Twenty-seven people tested positive for Covid-19 in Ladakh in last one day, taking the overall virus tally in the Union Territory (UT) to 21,494 and active cases to 249, an official statement said on Sunday.
Ladakh has registered 213 Covid-related deaths -- 155 in Leh and 58 in Kargil -- since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.
India saw a single-day rise of 8,774 new coronavirus infections, taking country's total tally of cases to 3,45,72,523, while the active cases have declined to 1,05,69, the lowest in 543 days.
The United States praised South Africa Saturday for quickly identifying the new Covid strain called Omicron and sharing this information with the world -- a barely veiled slap at China's handling of the original outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
Health officials in Australia's Sydney have begun urgent testing after two people who arrived on a flight from southern Africa overnight tested positive to the coronavirus, raising concerns that a newly detected strain has arrived in the country. Read here.
Israel on Saturday said it would ban the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first country to shut its borders completely in response to the potentially more contagious 'Omicron' coronavirus variant. Read here.