UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 09-April-2020

Major Topics Covered :

  1. “WORLD SHORT OF SIX MILLION NURSES, IT EXHAUSTS OUR CURRENT NURSING WORKFORCE”: WHO

  2. ‘WHO BLEW IT’: TRUMP TARGETS HEALTH BODY

  3. ABHIJIT BANERJEE ON COVID-19

  4. BLOOD TRANSFUSION AS A CURE FOR CORONAVIRUS

  5. INDIAN RESEARCHERS START WORKING ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS GENOME SEQUENCING

  6. BIOFORTIFIED CARROT

  7. OZONE HOLE OVER ARCTIC

  8. SUPREME COURT ON CORONAVIRUS TESTING


“WORLD SHORT OF SIX MILLION NURSES, IT EXHAUSTS OUR CURRENT NURSING WORKFORCE”: WHO

Why in news?

  • As COVID-19 captures global headlines, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the world needs nearly six million nurses.


Highlights:

  • The UN’s health agency along with partners Nursing Now and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) underscored in a report the crucial role played by nurses, who make up more than half of all health workers worldwide.

  • The report said that there are just under 28 million nurses on the planet.

  • In the five years leading up to 2018, the number grew by 4.7 million. But this still leaves a global shortfall of 5.9 million

  • The greatest gaps were in poorer countries in Africa, southeast Asia, the Middle East and parts of South America.

  • The report urged countries to identify gaps in their nursing workforce and invest in nursing education, jobs and leadership.

  • ICN chief executive Howard Catton told a virtual briefing that infection rates, medication errors and mortality rates “are all higher where there are too few nurses”.

  • In fighting the pandemic, Mary Watkins, who co-chaired the report for Nursing Now, called for urgent investment in virus tests for healthcare workers.

  • The experts said nursing remains female-dominated and needed to recruit more men.


Source : THE STATESMAN ( https://www.thestatesman.com/world/world-short-of-six-million-nurses-it-exhausts-our-current-nursing-workforce-who-1502874824.html )



‘WHO BLEW IT’: TRUMP TARGETS HEALTH BODY

Why in news?

  • As the number of fatalities crossed 11,000 in the United States Tuesday morning and the country continued to struggle of rising number of cases and shortage of medical supplies, President Donald Trump put the World Health Organization on notice calling it “China-centric” and giving the US bad advice.


Highlights:

  • “The WHO really blew it,” the president wrote on twitter, “For some reason, funded largely by the United States, yet very China centric. We will be giving that a good look. Fortunately I rejected their advice on keeping our borders open to China early on. Why did they give us such a faulty recommendation?”

  • The WHO had in January recommended countries keep their borders even as it was warning the world about the epidemic which it branded a pandemic in March.

  • American officials and lawmakers have accused WHO of readily certifying Chinese numbers on the outbreak that they believe are grossly suppressed.

  • The United States has exited a number of world bodies and pact on President Trump watch: the Paris Accord on climate change (2017), UNESCO (2017), Iran deal (2018) and UNHCR (2018). And the president has complained about US contributions to world bodies such as the United Nations.

Source : Hindustan Times ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/who-blew-it-trump-targets-health-body-for-faulty-recommendation-over-covid-19/story-iYPODBhuVDNtFQJpdhOeeJ.html )



ABHIJIT BANERJEE ON COVID-19

Why in news?

  • Nobel Laureate Economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, heading the global advisory board to counsel chief minister Mamata Banerjee regarding Bengal’s Covid-19 response, over a videoconference on Tuesday conveyed a few suggestions on personal hygiene and stressed the need for a reporting structure from the grassroots to contain the spread of the pandemic in the state.


Highlights:

  • Abhijit Banerjee requested Mamata Banerjee to ensure in market places the personal hygiene measures, besides social distancing. The market when they are open should have everyone wearing a mask and ensuring hand sanitisation or washing facilities at the entry and exit points

  • It is the time to be cautious without being scared. If we let fear overwhelm us, our good sense starts failing us – Banerjee.

  • The economist said there was the apprehension of the disease spreading from large gatherings and repeatedly drew on examples from (South) Korea and Taiwan to stress the need to implement social distancing as much as possible.

  • Abhijit Banerjee said the small things, if executed properly, contribute a lot to the fight.

  • The economist urged Mamata to set up a reporting structure for widening the ambit of random testing, on the basis of inputs from the grassroots, to minimise hotspots for spread of the disease.


Source : Telegraph India ( https://www.telegraphindia.com/india/coronavirus-outbreak-small-steps-important-says-nobel-laureate-abhijit-vinayak-banerjee/cid/1762976?ref=west-bengal_home-template )



BLOOD TRANSFUSION AS A CURE FOR CORONAVIRUS

Why in news?

  • Doctors around the world are dusting off a century-old treatment for infections: Infusions of blood plasma teeming with immune molecules that helped survivors beat the new coronavirus.


Highlights:

  • What the history books call "convalescent serum" was most famously used during the 1918 flu pandemic, and also against measles, bacterial pneumonia and numerous other infections before modern medicine came along. 

  • When infection strikes, the body starts making proteins called antibodies specially designed to target that germ. Those antibodies float in survivors' blood - specifically plasma, the yellowish liquid part of blood - for months, even years.

  • This is not a cure per se, but rather it is a way to reduce the severity of illness.

  • Doctors don't know how long survivors' antibodies against COVID-19 will persist.


Source : ASIAN AGE ( http://www.asianage.com/science/030420/blood-transfusions-a-treatment-used-for-1918-spanish-flu-may-help-manage-coronavirus.html )



INDIAN RESEARCHERS START WORKING ON NOVEL CORONAVIRUS GENOME SEQUENCING

Why in news?

  • Two institutes of Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), New Delhi have started working together on the whole genome sequencing of novel coronavirus.


Highlights:

  • Novel coronavirus is a new virus and researchers are trying to figure out all the different aspects of it.

  • This will help us to understand the evolution of the virus, how dynamic is it and how fast it imitates. This study will help us to know how fast it evolves and what are the future aspects of it.

  • Whole-genome sequencing is the method used to determine the complete DNA sequence of a specific organism’s genome. 

  • Three to four people from each institute are continuously working on the whole genome sequencing. 

  •  In the next 3-4 weeks researchers would be able to get at least 200-300 isolates and this information would help them to make some further conclusion about behaviour of this virus. 

  • In addition to this the institute has also increased the testing capacity. A large number of people are undergoing testing and they would go for mass screening. This will help them to identify the number of positive cases and then send them for isolation or quarantine.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1612155 )



BIOFORTIFIED CARROT

Why in news?

  • Madhuban Gajar, a biofortified carrot variety with high β-carotene and iron content developed by Shri Vallabhhai Vasrambhai Marvaniya, a farmer scientist from Junagadh district, Gujarat is benefitting more than 150 local farmers in the area.


Highlights:

  • The Madhuvan Gajar is a highly nutritious carrot variety developed through the selection methodwith higher β-carotene content (277.75 mg/kg) and iron content (276.7 mg/kg) dry basis and is used for various value-added products like carrot chips, juices, and pickles.

  • Madhuban Gajar carrot variety possesses a significantly higher root yield (74.2 t/ha) and plant biomass (275 gm per plant) as compared to check variety.

  • Shri VallabhaiVasrambhai Marvaniyawas conferred with a National Award by the President of India at Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi during Festival of Innovation (FOIN) – 2017. He was conferred with Padma Shri in the year 2019 for his extraordinary work.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx?PRID=1612159 )



OZONE HOLE OVER ARCTIC

Why in news?

  • Scientists have noticed a strong reduction of ozone concentrations over the Arctic. 


Highlights:

  • This ‘mini hole’ in the ozone layer is believed to have been caused by unusual atmospheric conditions, including freezing temperatures in the stratosphere.

  • The ozone layer is a protective layer of gas in the stratosphere that shields Earth from the Sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation that can otherwise cause skin cancerand cataracts along with other environmental issues.

  • Mini ozone holes over the North Pole aren’t rare, but the depletion over the Arctic this year is much larger compared to previous years.

  • As per the ESA, cold temperatures (below -80°C), sunlight, wind fields and substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are responsible for the ozone layer.

  • Even though both the north and south poles of the planet endure ozone losses during winter, the Arctic’s ozone depletion tends to be significantly less than Antarctica.

  • Although Arctic temperatures do not usually fall as low as in Antarctica, this year, powerful winds flowing around the North Pole trapped cold air within what is known as the polar vortex— a circling whirlpool of stratospheric winds.


Source : Indian Express ( https://indianexpress.com/article/technology/science/scientists-spot-unusual-ozone-hole-over-arctic-what-caused-it-6353382/ )



SUPREME COURT ON CORONAVIRUS TESTING

Why in news?

  • The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the government to issue appropriate orders immediately for free of cost testing for coronavirus even in private hospitals and laboratories.


Highlights:

  • The apex court said private hospitals too have an important role to play in containing the scale of the pandemic by extending philanthropic services in the hour of national crisis. 

  • Supreme Court has found that  at this time of national calamity permitting private labs to charge Rs 4500 for screening and confirmation test of Covid-19 may not be within the means of a large part of population of this country and no person be deprived to undergo the Covid-19 test due to non-payment of capped amount of Rs 4500.

  •  SC further is of the view that tests relating to Covid-19 must be carried out in NABL- accredited labs or any agencies approved by ICMR.

  • The court directed the Centre and states "to ensure availability of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, including sterile medical/Nitrile gloves, starch apparels, medical masks, goggles, face shield, respirators (i.e. N-95 Respirator Mask or Triple Layer Medical Mask or equivalent), shoe covers, head covers and coveralls/gowns to all health workers including doctors, nurses, ward boys, other medical and paramedical professionals actively attending to, and treating patients suffering from COVID-19 in India, in metro cities, tier-2 and tier-3 cities". 

  • The Centre, states/Union Territories and respective police authorities are directed to provide the necessary security to the doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 or patients suspected of Covid-19 or those quarantined are housed," it said and directed the states to take necessary action against those who obstruct and commit any offence against the medical staff. 

  • It also asked the government to explore alternative modes of production of protective clothing (masks, suits, caps, gloves etc.) and permitting movement of raw materials. 


Source : Times of India ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/sc-makes-coronavirus-testing-free-of-cost-directs-private-hospitals-not-to-charge-fee-for-testing/articleshow/75052892.cms )



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