With nearly a year into the pandemic, the world is still reeling under the impact of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as it continues to infect thousands across the countries. In the United Kingdom, strictest restrictions were placed on Monday as the cases continue to grow in record numbers. In the United States, meanwhile, Pfizer Inc and partners delivered the first vaccines to 141 of 145 locations targeted by the US government for the first day of a nationwide rollout on Monday. Singapore became the first Asian country to approve the Pfizer vaccine and said it expects to start receiving shots by the end of the year.

In India, the number of daily coronavirus cases dropped to lowest since July 6 as it recorded 22,065 fresh cases of the deadly virus. In Italy, the government is considering stringent nationwide restrictions as the Christmas holidays near.

Here are the latest update in the Covid-19 pandemic:

1) A new variant of coronavirus has been identified in London which is said to be responsible for the spike in cases. It was initially detected in southeast England, where the cases are now rising the fastest. However, there is no scientific evidence that the variant is more dangerous or infectious. “The variant may or may not be contributing to that,” Whitty said at a press conference, adding: “We don’t know what’s cause and effect,” England’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said on Monday as he cautioned against blaming it for the spike.

2) The World Health Organisation (WHO) also confirmed the new variant of Covid-19; the world health body said that it is aware of a genetic variant of the virus identified in about 1,000 individuals in the UK. During a press conference on Monday, WHO executive director Michael Ryan said, “This virus evolves and changes over time, and we’ve seen different variants emerge.” The WHO is working with an international laboratory network to see if the variant is becoming more prevalent internationally.

3) In India, doctors from a Delhi hospital observed an increase in cases of a rare fungal infection in recovering coronavirus patients. As per hospital authorities, the deadly infection which if not detected early, can kill half the patients and lead to loss of vision or jaw in others, was triggered by Covid-19. In the last 15 days, ENT surgeons at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) have seen 13 cases of “Covid-19-triggered mucormycosis (Black fungus)”.

4) A group of researchers in France have found that dogs can sniff out Covid-19 and identify patients including the asymptomatic ones. In the preliminary study in PLoS One and conducted in March, dogs who sniffed swab samples of armpit sweat could tell which samples came from Covid-19 patients and which were from people who tested negative for the new coronavirus. Dogs can identify infected individuals with 85% to 100% accuracy and rule out infection with 92% to 99% accuracy, news agency Reuters reported quoting Dominique Grandjean of Alfort Veterinary School in France.

5) Singapore became the first Asian country to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine and said it expects to start receiving shots by the end of the year. The government also said that it expects to have secured enough vaccines for everyone by the third quarter of next year.

(With agency inputs)

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