UPSC Daily Current Affairs : 10-April-2020

Major Topics Covered :

  1. GOVERNMENT PACKAGE AGAINST COVID – 19

  2. WILDLIFE TRADE, HABITAT DEGRADATION DRIVING CORONAVIRUS SPILLOVER: STUDY

  3. ICMR REVISES STRATEGY FOR CORONAVIRUS

  4. PAK JOINS SAARC COVID FUND

  5. MORE THAN STIMULUS, VIRUS-AFFECTED COUNTRIES NEED PROACTIVE FISCAL POLICIES: IMF

  6. DELHI’s OPERATION SHIELD

  7. PRE-CONCEPTION AND PRE-NATAL DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES ACT, 1994

  8. WHY DID BETELGEUSE DIM?



GOVERNMENT PACKAGE AGAINST COVID – 19

Why in news?

  • Government of India (GoI) has announced significant investments to the tune of Rs.15000 crores for 'India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package'. 


Highlights:

  • The funds sanctioned will be utilized for immediate COVID-19 Emergency Response (amount of Rs.7774 crores) and rest for medium-term support (1-4 years) to be provided under mission mode approach.


Objectives of the Package :

  • Mounting emergency response to slow and limit COVID-19 in India through the development of diagnostics and COVID-19 dedicated treatment facilities,

  • Centralized procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, 

  • Strengthen and build resilient National and State health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks,

  • Setting up of laboratories and bolster surveillance activities,

  • Bio-security preparedness,

  • Pandemic research and

  • Proactively engage communities and

  • Conduct risk communication activities. 

  • These interventions and initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


Source : PIB ( https://pib.gov.in/PressReleseDetail.aspx )



WILDLIFE TRADE, HABITAT DEGRADATION DRIVING CORONAVIRUS SPILLOVER: STUDY

Why in news?

  • Exploitation of wildlife by humans through hunting, trade, and habitat degradation leads to close contact between the animals and humans, increasing the risk of spillover of viruses like the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19, according to a study. 


Highlights:

  • The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, provides new evidence for assessing spillover risk in animal species and highlights how the processes that create wildlife population declines also enable the transmission of animal viruses to humans. 

  • Domesticated animals, including livestock, have shared the highest number of viruses with humans, with eight times more zoonotic viruses compared to wild mammalian species. 

  • Wild animals that have increased in abundance and adapted well to human-dominated environments also share more viruses with people. 

  • These include some rodent, bat and primate species that live among people, near our homes, and around our farms and crops, making them high-risk for ongoing transmission of viruses to people

  • Bats repeatedly have been implicated as a source of "high consequence" pathogens, including SARS, Nipah virus, Marburg virus and ebolaviruses, the study noted.


Source : Times of India ( https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/science/wildlife-trade-habitat-degradation-driving-coronavirus-spillover-study/articleshow/75043290.cms )



ICMR REVISES STRATEGY FOR CORONAVIRUS

Why in news?

  • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Thursday revised the testing strategy for COVID-19 disease clusters where it had earlier recommended antibody (blood-based) tests for anyone reporting influenza like illness (ILI) symptoms.


Highlights:

  • Revising the old guidance today, ICMR mandated nose/throat swab based current Covid test for all symptomatic people in hotspots or migrant centres.

  • All symptomatic ILI (fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose) will be tested with RT-PCR (swab test) within seven days of illness. After seven days of illness, these same people will be administered the antibody test. If the test is negative, it must be confirmed by RT-PCR

  • Besides the above hotspot category that also covers large migration gathering centres, the following sets of people are to undergo Covid testing in India as per current ICMR guidance —

  • All symptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days;

  • All symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases;

  • all symptomatic healthcare workers;

  • all patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (fever and cough and/or shortness of breath);

  • Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case have to be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in his/her contact.


Source : Tribune (https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/coronavirus/covid-19-test-now-must-for-all-with-cough-fever-runny-nose-in-hotspots-migrant-centres-68896 )



PAK JOINS SAARC COVID FUND

Why in news?

  • After sitting out the video conferencing of SAARC trade officials on Wednesday, Pakistan reversed course to pledge $ 3 million towards the SAARC Covid-19 Emergency Fund to support regional efforts in the fight against the pandemic.


Highlights:

  • With Pakistan’s contribution, the total corpus of the fund now stands at $ 21. 5 million.

  • India has announced a contribution of $ 10 million, Afghanistan and Nepal $ 1 million each, Bangladesh $ 1.5 million, Bhutan $ 1 lakh, Maldives $ 2 lakhs and Sri Lanka $ 5 million.

  • Islamabad said it wanted all proceeds of the fund to be administered by the SAARC Secretariat and that the modalities for the Fund’s utilisation should be finalised through consultations with all SAARC members. 

  • Pakistan reiterated that it remains committed to the SAARC process and will continue working with the Member States to strengthen regional cooperation.


Source : Tribune ( https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/pak-joins-saarc-covid-fund-pledges-3-million-68904 )



MORE THAN STIMULUS, VIRUS-AFFECTED COUNTRIES NEED PROACTIVE FISCAL POLICIES: IMF

Why in news?

  • Batting for pump priming of economies across the world, International Monetary Fund chief economist Gita Gopinath on Wednesday said while a substantial fiscal stimulus package will push up the fiscal deficit and debt-to-GDP ratio of economies, lack of proactive fiscal policy by governments could put them in worse place with collapse of economic activity.


Highlights:

  • Gopianth said the current crisis which she called the “Great Lockdown" is fundamentally different from earlier crises such as the Great Depression or Great Recession during the global financial crisis.

  • Asked how soon the global economy can recover from the present crisis, Gopinath said besides economists and policy makers, it is going to depend a lot on what health experts tell us because it is not going to be possible to bring the economy back 100% if we don’t get the coronavirus under containment.

  • IMF projection is 2021 will be one of recovery. But there is so much uncertainty at this point. If containment measures work and this is not a very prolonged period, if people get back to work more quickly, and if policies that have been put in place are effective then we can think about a rebound.


Source : Livemint ( https://www.livemint.com/news/india/more-than-stimulus-virus-affected-countries-need-proactive-fiscal-policies-imf-s-gita-gopinath-11586441168288.html )



DELHI’s OPERATION SHIELD

Why in news?

  • Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday said his administration was starting something called "Operation SHIELD" in the capital city to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.


Highlights:

  • "SHIELD", according to the Chief Minister, will stand for "Sealing, Home Quarantine, Isolation and Tracking, Essential Supply, Local Santisation and Door-To-Door Checking".

  • It will be enforced in neighbourhoods with a high concentration of COVID-19 cases.

  • 21 areas have been identified as containment zones in Delhi. These areas have been sealed. People are not being allowed to enter or exit from these areas

  • The SHIELD programme comes two days after the Chief Minister announced "the 5T plan" of "testing, tracing, treatment, team-work and tracking and monitoring".

  • Mr Kejriwal also promised strict action against those who misbehave or discriminate against medical professionals a day after two women doctors of Safdarjung Hospital were attacked in Gautam Nagar by locals who accused them of "spreading coronavirus".


Source : NDTV ( https://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/coronavirus-covid-19-delhi-operation-shield-arvind-kejriwal-announces-new-plan-2209088 )



PRE-CONCEPTION AND PRE-NATAL DIAGNOSTIC TECHNIQUES ACT, 1994:

Why in news?

  • A section of the media is speculating that the PC&PNDT (Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection)) Act 1994 has been suspended by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.


Highlights:

  • It is clarified by MoHFW that it has not suspended the PC&PNDT Act, which prohibits sex selection before or after conception.

  • In view of the ongoing lockdown, the ministry just deferred the deadlines due to the lockdown.

  • Ultrasound clinic, Genetic Counselling centre, Genetic Laboratory, Genetic Clinic and Imaging Centre would have to maintain all the mandatory records on day to day basis. However, they will not have to report it now but will be taken up by the government on a later date.

  • The PC-PNDT Act was enacted on 20 September 1994 with the intent to prohibit prenatal diagnostic techniques for determination of the sex of the fetus leading to female feticide.


Source : PIB



WHY DID BETELGEUSE DIM?

Why in news?

  • Betelgeuse star brightness began to dim in unprecedented  ways, attracting the attention of astronomers and amateur stargazers around the world. 


Highlights:

  • Betelgeuse is an incredibly big star located about 700 light years away from Earth. It is about 800-times wider than the Sun and nearly 15-times as massive.

  • It is also the second brightest after Rigel in the Orion constellation, in the northern hemisphere.

  • The brightness of most stars, including our Sun, vary over time. But these variations are usually small, nothing beyond a few percentage points of the star’s total light output. Betelgeuse, however, has been up to something else.

  • It began fading sometime in October 2019 and had lost fully two-thirds of its shine by mid-February 2020. Normally ranked the tenth brightest star in the night sky, Betelgeuse has suddenly slipped to 25th. This

  • Some astronomers suspect the star is nearing its death. They argue that Betelgeuse’s freakish decline could soon culminate in a sudden end triggered by a violent explosion known as a supernova. However, given how old and close we know Betelgeuse to be, a supernova event in our lifetime seems quite improbable.

  • Betelgeuse belongs to a category of massive stars that are extremely rare. There are more low-mass stars in the Milky Way galaxy than there are high-mass stars

  • It’s possible that a giant spot covering the surface of Betelgeuse has temporarily impeded convection over a large area, thus lowering the supergiant’s surface temperature. This would explain the current dimming.

  • Some astronomers think an oddly shaped column of dust and gas produced this way has simply come in the way of our line of sight, and obstructed some of Betelgeuse’s starlight from reaching Earth.


Source : Wire ( https://science.thewire.in/the-sciences/betelgeuse-dimming-stellar-lifecycle-hypotheses/ )



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