• Current Affairs, 28 April 2020

    NATIONAL NEWS

    1. Total number of active COVID19 cases rise to 748; 67 cured till now

    • Total number of active cases of COVID-19 climbed to 748 in the country. According to latest data of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, 67 patients have been cured and discharged while 19 deaths have been reported in the country so far.
    • Indian Council of Medical Research said that more than 27 thousand samples from 26,798 individuals have been tested in the country.
    1. DRDO developing body suits for medical staff, five layer N99 masks, hand sanitizer and ventilators to help fight the virus.

    • Defence Research Development Organization, DRDO is ready with four different items including hand sanitizer and Ventilators  to be deployed in ‘War against Corona’. Ministry of Defence has said that Hand sanitizer being the basic instrument against spread of COVID-19 has now been developed in-house at DRDO and is being distributed to major offices and establishments.
    • Defence Bio-Engineering and Electro Medical Laboratory, Bangalore, a DRDO lab, has identified a vendor to produce critical care ventilator. This innovation is expected to be available within a week. Around 5,000 ventilators will be produces in the first month and 10,000 subsequently.
    • Five layer N99 masks with two layers of nano mesh developed by DRDO are very advanced.
    • Earlier, DRDO had developed this body suit for medical and paramedical staff to manage and evacuate the causalities in the event of radiological emergencies, which right now is converted as a full body suit to stop contamination.
    1. FinMin provided Rs 1.70 Lakh Cr relief package under PMGaribKalyanYojana for the poor to tackle Corona Virus

     

    • The disaster of COVID-19 has affected the lives globally from personal to professional, from rich to poor; all are under the black cloud of virus. Every national government is trying hard to get over this situation. Indian government is also one of them. Everyday new relief measures are being launched by our government to tackle this situation effectively and efficiently. On March 26, 2020, our Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman has publicized the Rs 1.70 Lakh Crore relief package under Pradhan MantriGaribKalyanYojana (PMGKY), during the Press Conference in New Delhi. The motive behind this is to aid and support the Poverty-stricken people to fight a battle against Corona Virus.
    • Insurance Cover of Rs 50 Lakh per healthcare worker workers fighting COVID-19 in Govt Hospitals & health centres
    • PM GaribKalyan Ann (अन्न) Yojana; foodgrain entitlement doubled
    • Farmers to get first instalment of Rs 2000 under PM KISAN in April 2020
    • Women Jan Dhan account holders to get Rs 500 per month for next 3 months
    • Increase in MNREGA wage to Rs 202 a day from Rs 182 to benefit 13.62 crore families
    • Ex-gratia of Rs 1,000 to 3 crore poor senior citizen, poor widows and poor disabled
    • Building and Construction Workers Welfare Fund used for Construction Workers by States
    1. PM Modi participated in Virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit to develop action plan against COVID-19; over USD 5 trillion to be injected

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in an extraordinary “Virtual Group of 20 (G20) Leaders’ Summit”which was hosted by Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud through video conferenceIt was held to discuss the challenges created by the COVID-19 and to develop an action planfor global coordinated response against it.
    • The summit followed the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting and G20 Sherpas Meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic which agreed to develop an action plan.
    • It should be noted that 90% of the coronavirus cases and 88% of deaths happened in G20 countries. They share 80% of world GDP and 60% of world population
    • To inject over USD 5 trillion into the global economy to counter the social and economic impact of COVID-19. Leaders also agreed to contribute to the WHO led COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fundon a voluntary basis.
    • To strengthen the WHO’s mandate to fight against pandemics which include delivery of medical supplies, diagnostic tools, treatments, medicines and vaccines.
    • To minimize the economic and social cost of the pandemic by using available policy tools and to restore global growth, and market stability.
    • Members– Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico,  ​Republic o​f Korea​,​ Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, ​​​Turkey, United Kingdom (UK), United States (US), and European Union (EU)​. Spain is a permanent guest invitee to the G20 meetings.

     

    1. Seventh Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2019-20 Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC)

     

    • Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has released the Seventh Bi-monthly Monetary Policy Statement, 2019-20 Resolution of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), RBIunder which MPC has decided rate changes with immediate effect due to the current and evolving macroeconomic situation impacted by COVID-19.
    • The meet was scheduled for 31st March, 1st and 3rd April 2020 but they advanced its meeting on 24th, 26th and 27th March.

    Following table showing the policy rate changed in 7th Bi-monthly Monetary Policy

    Policy rate New Rate Previous Rate Change in Basis points (bps)
    Policy Repo Rate       4.40 % 5.15% 75
    Reverse Repo Rate    4% 4.90% 90
    Marginal Standing Facility Rate   4.65% 5.40% 25
    Bank Rate      4.65% 5.40% 25
    CRR   4% 3% 100

    Measures taken by RBI in FY19-20 for sound functioning of  financial system:

    -Cumulative reduction in the policy repo rate of 135 basis points.

    -Two USD buy/sell swap auctions of USD 5 billion each conducted on March 26 and April 23, 2019, injecting liquidity into the banking system amounting to Rs 34,561 crore and Rs 34,874 crore, respectively.

    -Seven open market purchases, injecting Rs 92,500 crore into the system.

    -Four simultaneous purchase and sale of government securities under Open Market Operations (OMOs) during December and January (December 23 and 30, 2019 and January 6 and 23, 2020) to ensure better monetary policy transmission.

    -Five long term repo operations (LTROs) between February 17 and March 18, 2020 for one-year and three-year tenors amounting to Rs 1,25,000 crore of durable liquidity at reasonable cost (fixed repo rate).

    -Two 6-month US Dollar sell/buy swap auction providing dollar liquidity amounting to USD 2.71 billion.

    Variable rate repo auctions of Rs 50,000 crore and Rs 25,000 crore of 8 days and 3 days maturity on March 26, 2020 and March 31, 2020 respectively, with standalone primary dealers (SPDs) allowed to participate.

    -Variable rate Repo auction of 16-day maturity amounting to Rs 81,585 crore on March 23-24, 2020.

    -The amount under the Standing Liquidity Facility (SLF) available for standalone primary dealers was enhanced from Rs 2,800 crore to Rs 10,000 crore on March 24, 2020 and this will be available till April 17, 2020

    RBI allows banks to put EMIs on hold for three months
    RBI permitted a moratorium of three months on payment of instalments in respect of all term loans (retail loans and EMIs-Equated Monthly Installment) outstanding as on March 1, 2020.  It means if a borrower is unable to pay their EMI for the next three months, the bank will not classify it as a non-performing asset (NPA). The decision has been taken to support the people who have home loans, car loans etc, and are facing pay cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

    • This includes term loans taken from all commercial banks (including regional rural banks, small finance banks and local area banks), co-operative banks, all-India Financial Institutions, and Non-Banking Financial Companies (NBFCs) including housing finance companies and micro-finance institutions.
    1. Health ministry categorises hydroxychloroquine as schedule H1 drug

    • Amid the growing coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW)in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 26B of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (23 of 1940), has declared hydroxychloroquine (HCQS) drug as a schedule H1 drug– which means it can’t be sold without the prescription of a registered medical practitioner.
    • Now the sale of the drug will be based on the conditions specified in Schedule H1 to the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945,which are the set of rules under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which has provisions for classification of drugs into different schedules and also guidelines for storage, sale, display.
    • he Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) recently suggested that hydroxychloroquine be used in high risk cases of coronavirus (COVID-19).
    • Moreover, due to the growing number of coronavirus cases in India, many hospitals and medical stores are buying this drug. Hence the government has already banned the export of HCQS drugs due to shortage.
    • As per health ministry, these drugs should be sold in India with some conditions:It includes,
    • The Schedule H1 drug supply should be registered in a separate register, which records the name and address of the prescriber, the name of the patient, the name of the drug & the quantity supplied and such records will be maintained for 3- years and is available for inspection.
    • On the strip of hydroxychloroquine drugs it is marked ‘RX’ in red color and will be displayed on the left top corner of the label.
    1. DST sets up COVID-19 Task Force to map technologies by start ups

    • The Department of Science and Technology (DST) set up COVID-19 Task Force for mapping technologiesto fund nearly market-ready solutions in the area of diagnostics, testing, health care delivery solutions & equipment supplies.
    • The technologies are mapped from Research and Development(R&D) labs, academic institutions, start-ups & Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises(MSME)
    • The market solutions include masks, sanitizers, affordable kits for screening, ventilators, oxygenators among others and data analytics to track, monitor & control  the outbreak by  artificial intelligence(AI) & Internet of Things (IoT)  based solutions.
    • Task Force consist representatives from DST, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Startup India and All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
    • The Task Force is to identify the most promising start-ups that are close to scale up or need financial or other help or projected demand to rapidly scale up.
    • DST has invited 2 separate sets of proposals, one under Science & Engineering Research Board(SERB) and another under Technology Development Board (TDB) to support scientific solutions & commercial manufacturing of new and existing solutions.

    INTERNATIONAL NEWS

    1. Four more Corona cases including 2 doctors in Bangladesh, RMG Factories to shut down

    • Bangladesh today reported four more Corona positive cases in the country taking the total number of infected people to 48. Addressing media through virtual briefing Director of the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) Dr. Meerjady Sabrina Flora said that earlier only foreign returnees were being tested for Corona virus but now it has been extended to all potential groups at risk including health professionals.
    • While the offices and other places of public gathering like malls, shopping centres, public transportation remained shut in the country, two major associations from the Ready Made Garments (RMG) sector gave a call to the manufacturing units to shut down their factories till April 4.
    • The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) advised its members to close down factories in line with the appeal of the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to stay home. Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) has asked the factories to shut down production till 4thApril in view of the Corona crisis.
    • However, the BGMEA said that factories engaged in producing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other materials on urgent basis can remain open.
    • RMG is the largest sector of Bangladesh economy contributing close to 84 percent of its total export earnings and employing more than 4 million people. Bangladesh has reported that orders worth dollar 2.68 billion for the RMG sector has either been cancelled or halted since the Corona crisis hit the world.
    • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had announced on March 25 a package of Tk 5000 crore for the garment export sector exclusively for paying salaries to the workers.
    • In the meanwhile, the British High Commission in Dhaka, in a Facebook post, advised its citizens to return to UK. Currently, flights of Biman Bangladesh continue to operate to London and Manchester in UK but it announced today that these flights will stop from 1 April in view of the Corona virus crisis.
    1. Sweden to limit gatherings to 50 people, down from 500

    • Sweden has decided to limit gatherings to 50 people, down from 500. Speaking with reporters, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven told that an extraordinary cabinet meeting has taken this decision. Earlier Sweden was open for the business with a softer approach to curbing the COVID-19 spread than most of Europe.
    • In stark contrast to most of Europe, the Scandinavian country has kept primary schools, cafes and restaurants open, and has encouraged children to continue with their sporting activities.
    • Earlier this week, the government announced that restaurants and bars would only be allowed to provide table service to avoid crowding but stopped short of closing them.

     

    1. WHO warns lack of protective gear for health workers is the most pressing threat in the fight to prevent deaths.

     

     

     

    • The World Health Organization has warned that a dire lack of protective gear for health workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most pressing threats in the fight to prevent deaths.
    • WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the WHO had shipped almost two million individual items of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, to 74 countries and was preparing to send a similar amount to a further 60 countries. He said, he had urged the G-20 countries to use their industrial might and innovation to produce and distribute the tools needed to save more lives.
    • Mr Ghebreyesus said that the world is only at the beginning of this fight and need to stay calm, stay united and work together.
    1. PM Modi, Crown Prince and Dy Supreme Commander of UAE Armed Forces discuss latest developments of COVID-19

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces discussed the latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and international efforts being made to contain its repercussions.
    • Mr Modi called the Crown Prince to discuss and explore paths for consolidating the strategic cooperation between the two friendly countries in addition to an array of international and regional developments of common concern.
    • The Emirates News Agency reported that the two sides mulled over the possibility of advancing cooperation between two countries’ entities in charge of addressing the spread of the COVID-19.
    • They also discussed the prospects of further contributing to the international efforts made to mitigate its impact on the humanitarian, health and economic fronts.
    • They emphasized the importance of forging ahead with international efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, noting that global synergy is a must under such circumstance to put an end to the pandemic and its menacing threats to the entire world.

     

    1. US developing new guidelines for coronavirus risk: Trump

    • US President Donald Trump says that federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread, as he aims to begin to ease nationwide guidelines meant to stem the COVID 19 outbreak.
    • In a letter to the governors, Mr Trump said, the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place. States and municipalities would still retain authority to set whatever restrictions deem necessary.
    1. Saudi Arabia reports 112 new COVID 19 cases

     

    • The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has reported 112 new COVID 19 cases, bringing the total number of cases in the Kingdom to 1012.
    • According to the Saudi Press Agency, 12 of these cases got infected while traveling and they are quarantined since their arrival to the Kingdom’s ports of entry. The other 100 people got infected as a result of contact with previously confirmed cases.
    • A total of 33 people have recovered from the virus, while total of three deaths have also been reported.
    • The Kingdom has banned residents from entering or exiting Riyadh, Mecca and Medina.
    • All malls and parks were shut down earlier this month in an effort to slow the spread of the virus. Restaurants and cafes have also been banned from serving food and beverages.

    SPORTS NEWS

    1. Sachin Tendulkar donates Rs 50 lakh to fight COVID-19 pandemic

    • Batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar today donated 50 lakh rupees to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • The iconic batsman also took to Twitter to urge fellow countrymen not to ostracize any fellow citizen who might have contracted the dreaded virus.
    • Earlier on Wednesday, the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly pledged to donate rice worth 50 lakh rupees for the underprivileged.
    • Among other prominent cricketers, the Pathan brothers  Irfan and Yusuf  donated 4000 face masks to Baroda police and health department while Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a contribution of one lakh rupees.
    • Among athletes from other disciplines, wrestler Bajrang Punia and sprinter Hima Das are some of the prominent names to have donated their salaries in the battle against the virus.

     

     

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