• Current Affairs, 8 April 2020


    1. Maharashtra to put in place strict measures to ensure lockdown as Corona virus cases cross 1,000 mark


    • In Maharashtra, as Corona virus positive cases crossed the thousand mark, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said that a decision on extending the lockdown will be taken post 14th of April when the current lockdown ends. The Chief Minister yesterday chaired a State Cabinet meeting via video conferencing and took stock of the available medical infrastructure like testing kits, medicines and essential commodities.
    • In view of the pandemic, the State Government decided to extend the scheme to Taluka level and provide Shiv Bhojan Thali at a reduced price of five rupees for the next three months. Currently, nearly one lakh Thalis are being served under the scheme. It was further decided to provide food grains to orange ration cardholders till June at concessional rates. It was also decided to amend the Maharashtra Charity Management Act to avail financial assistance from charitable trusts to fight the Corona virus outbreak.
    • Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to report more than 1,000 Corona virus cases with the total number of affected people in the state rising to 1,018. Out of 150 new cases reported yesterday, at least 116 were reported from Mumbai, taking the total number of positive cases in the city to 590. But, the spread of the disease in Dharavi, the biggest slum in Asia has been a matter of concern as two more positive cases were found yesterday.
    • Similarly the participants of Tablighi Markaz at Nizmuddin are also adding to the worries as 50 to 60 participants who returned to the state are still missing and not ready to reveal their identity. AIR Correspondent reports that Dharavi is increasing worries of the BMC and State Government. Health Minister Rajesh Tope visited Dharavi along with Education Minister Varsha Gaikwad who is the MLA from Dharavi. He took stock of the situation and directed to increase the number of ventilators in the dedicated COVID-19 hospital in the area.
    • On the other hand, 50 to 60 participants of Tablighi Markaz, who returned to Maharashtra are still missing and they have switched off their phones. Home Minister Anil Deshmukh has asked them to come forward immediately and visit the nearest Police Station and also do the necessary health check-up. He has warned of strict action by the Police if those participants fail to do so.
    • All the zoos, national parks and sanctuaries in Maharashtra have been asked to remain vigil after a tiger in United States tested positive for Corona virus. The facilities have been asked to strictly follow the guidelines released by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to avoid spread of the virus from humans to animals. There are about 300 tigers in the state while a staff of over 25,000 looks after 50 national parks and sanctuaries in the state.
    • Even though the places are closed for tourists till 30th of April, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Sunil Limaye said that staff members have been asked to maintain personal hygiene and social distancing. He said, the entire area is to be sanitized with sodium hypochlorite and staff has been further asked to report to the veterinary officer, if they find anything unusual. They have also been asked to enhance disease surveillance, mapping and monitoring system.
    1. Govt asks authorities to take stern action against those involved in black marketing during lockdown

    • Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asked authorities to take quick and stern action against individuals involved in hoarding and black marketing. Briefing media in New Delhi yesterday, Joint Secretary in Home Ministry Punya Salila Shrivastava said, the Home Ministry did a detailed review of the status of essential commodities and lockdown measures. The present status of essential goods and services is by and large satisfactory.
    • Joint Secretary in Health Ministry Lav Agarwal informed that Government has been adopting a strategy for cluster containment and for outbreaks that are amenable to management. He said, this strategy is producing positive results, especially in Agra and Gautam Buddh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Pathanamthitta in Kerala, Bhilwara in Rajasthan and East Delhi.
    • He said, Indian Railways has prepared 40 thousand isolation beds in 2,500 coaches. Railways is making 375 isolation beds daily and this is going on across 133 locations across the country. Quoting a recent ICMR study, Mr Agarwal said, if one COVID-19 patient does not follow lockdown orders or practice social distancing, then the patient can infect 406 people in 30 days.
    • The total number of COVID-19 cases in country has risen to 4,789 with 508 more positive cases reported yesterday. In all, 124 deaths have been reported so far.


    1. ICMR allows state govts to set up sample collection sites for COVID-19 testing

    • In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian Council of Medical Research, ICMR yesterday said it has no objection to State Governments setting up convenient sample collection sites.  However, the apex health research body said, its guidelines should be followed and the sample collection should be done using recommended Personal Protective Equipment, PPE.
    • In an advisory, the ICMR said, it has no objection on adoption of establishing convenient sample collection sites, drive through centres for sample collection etc. by the respective State Governments. These sites should be disinfected regularly as per recommended procedures and all biosafety and biosecurity precautions should be implemented, the advisory added.


    1. Textiles Ministry helps farmers, takes measures for packaging of food grains

    • The Centre has taken a number of initiatives to ensure smooth supply of essential items during the lockdown period arising out of COVID-19 pandemic. The Textiles Ministry has taken measures to protect the produce of wheat farmers by providing them alternate packaging bags.
    • It has extended limit for High-Density PolyEthylene/Polypropylene bags from 1.80 lakh bales to 2.62 lakh to tide over crisis of packaging of foodgrains due to closure of jute mills due to lockdown. This move has been taken mainly to protect the interest of wheat farmers as grains are likely to be ready for packing mid of this month onwards. However, whenever the production of jute bags in the jute mills resumes after the lock down period is over, priority will be given to the jute bags for packaging of food grains.
    • To help jute farmers during the lock down period, Textiles Ministry has written to the all jute growing States to allow movement, sale and supply of jute seeds, fertilizers and other farming aids. Government is committed to protect the interest of the jute farmers and workers through provisions of the Jute Packaging Materials Act and it provides about 100 per cent reservation for packaging of food grains in jute bags.


    1. Union Govt notifies changes in allowances of MPs

    • Union Government has notified changes in allowances of Members of Parliament which entail that they will get 30 per cent less allowances. The decision was taken as part of government’s efforts to mobilize additional resources in fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi welcomed the notifications issued by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats. In a tweet, Mr Joshi said, the initiative is a good beginning for augmenting resources to fight the pandemic.


    1. PM expresses grief over passing away of Indian-American journalist Brahm Kanchibotla

    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed grief over passing away of Indian-American journalist Brahm Kanchibotla.
    • In a tweet, Mr Modi said, he will be remembered for his fine work and efforts to bring India and the US closer. He extended his condolences to the departed’s family and friends.
    1. Indian Air Force continuing its support in fight against COVID-19

    • Indian Air Force is continuing its support in fight against COVID-19 wherein medical supplies are being transported to equip the State Governments and supporting agencies to combat the contagion effectively and efficiently. During the last few days, IAF airlifted essential medical supplies and commodities from nodal points to Manipur, Nagaland and Gangtok in North Eastern region and also in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
    • In addition, AN-32 aircraft yesterday, airlifted personnel and 3,500 kilograms of medical equipment of ICMR from Chennai to Bhubaneshwar for setting up of testing labs and facilities in Odisha. IAF has earmarked aircraft at nodal points to airlift medical supplies and equipment at short notice to proactively support operations against COVID-19. In addition, IAF airlifted critical medical supplies to Maldives Capital Male as Operation Sanjeevani on 2nd of this month. Maldives has faced shortage of essential medical supplies as its connectivity with India- its main source of medical supplies was broken after COVID-19 lockdown.
    • IAF has created nine quarantine facilities of 200-300 personnel capacity each, at nodal IAF bases across the country. Air Force Command Hospital in Bangalore has been designated as the first laboratory in the IAF to undertake COVID-19 testing. To monitor the prevailing situation and provide immediate response and assistance as required, a 24×7 crisis management cell has been set up at Air Headquarters and various Command Headquarters.
    1. Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has approved an ordinance of 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament (MPs) for FY 20-21

    • Union Cabinet headed by Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi has approved an ordinance of 30% cut in the salaries of all Members of Parliament (MPs) for FY 20-21 and a two-year suspension (2020-21 and 2021-22) of the MP Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme so that the amount saved can go to the Consolidated Fund of India to fight COVID-19. This announcement was made by Prakash Javadkar, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting.
    • In regard to the 30% salary cut, the passed ordinance has amended the Salaries, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954. The remuneration cut is effective from April 1, 2020for a period of one year.
    • The salary cut is applicable to all MPs, including the Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers.
    • President, vice-president, and the governors have also voluntarily decided to for go 30% of their salary for a year.
    • It should be noted that only the salaries would be cut not the pension and allowances of MPs.
    • According to the Act, as amended in April 2018, MPs are entitled to a monthly salary of 1 lakh, apart from various allowances.


    1. Tamil Nadu topped in micro-irrigation coverage under PMKSY for FY 2019-20


    • The state of Tamil Nadu has topped the all-India level for micro-irrigation (MI), under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), with coverage of 2,06,853.25 hafor the year financial year 2019-20. The state is followed by Karnataka and Gujarat with 1,41,103.56 Ha and 1,08,322.00 Ha of coverage respectively.
    • On the other hand, the cumulative total coverage of MI during 2015-2020 has been topped by Karnataka (8,15,690.31 ha) followed by Andhra Pradesh (7,17,421.08 ha) and Gujarat (7,00,858.35 ha).
    1. ICMR approves TB machines for COVID-19 testing


    • Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has given its nod to Diagnostic machines used to test drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) for conducting COVID-19 tests. In this regard, Truenat beta CoV teston Truelab workstation will be used for the screening test of COVID-19. A total of 800 truenat machines are available in India.
    • Currently, India is using real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing approved by United States and Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
    • It is a battery-operated small machine that requires minimal training and gives the result between 30-60 minutes.
    • The sample of the throat and the nasal swab is collected by the trained technicians wearing personal protective equipment(PPE).
    • There are two-wayand four-way Truenat machines. Four-way Truenat machines can run 32 to 48 samples of multiple diseases – COVID19, HIV and TB, while two-way can handle 16 to 24 samples.
    • The cost of a test on Truenat machines will be of Rs 1000-Rs.1500.


    1. US Prez Trump says he would put on hold the WHO funding

    • United States President Donald Trump has said that he would put on hold funding to the World Health Organization, WHO, accusing the global organization of becoming China-centric during the ongoing Corona virus pandemic. Geneva-headquartered World Health Organization, receives vast amounts of money from the United States.
    • President Trump said, his administration is going to look into the US funding to the WHO. Meanwhile, Senator Jim Risch, Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called for an independent investigation into the WHO handling of the COVID-19 response. Mr Risch alleged that the WHO has failed not only the American people, it has failed the world with its flagrant mishandling of the response to COVID-19.
    • He said that WHO Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ apparent unwillingness to hold the Chinese Communist Party to even the minimum standard of global health and transparency hindered the world’s ability to blunt the spread of this pandemic. He alleged that the organization has become a political puppet of the Chinese Government.
    • A bipartisan group of nearly two dozen lawmakers has announced to introduce a resolution to defund the WHO until its Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus resigns and an international commission investigates the organization’s role in covering up the Chinese Communist Party’s failed COVID-19 response.
    • The United States’ intelligence community has reported that the Chinese Government hid the threat of COVID-19 and, as a result, made it difficult for the rest of the world to respond early, appropriately and aggressively.
    1. Sri Lankan PM urges public to give full support to govt’s efforts in fight against COVID-19 outbreak

    • Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has urged the general public to give their full support to the government’s efforts in fight against COVID-19 outbreak. Delivering a  special statement this evening on the prevailing situation, Mr. Rajapaksa requested all citizens to stay at homes by following rules  as everyone’s destiny will be decided by the way they conduct  to defeat the common enemy, COVID-19.
    • The  Premier outlined the measures taken by the government to mitigate the pandemic outbreak and appreciated the sacrifice made by security forces and health workers who are on the COVID-19 frontline.
    • He stressed that in the face of a pandemic, their attentiveness, commitment and discipline will decide whether they will survive. Mr Rajapaksa also urged the country men to stay united in these times and not be divided along communal lines as the only enemy at the moment is Coronavirus.
    • Meanwhile, Sri Lanka recorded seven more positive cases today bringing the total number of active cases to 147. Six people have died out of total 185 cases reported and 42 have recovered so far. The country is under curfew for over two weeks and is being strictly implemented by police and security forces.


    1. Next two weeks crucial for country in fight against Coronavirus, says Nepal Prime Minister

    • Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that next two weeks are crucial for the country in fight against Coronavirus. In his televised address to the nation today, Mr. Oli said it has been made clear that we as a world were not ready to fight such kind of pandemic.
    • He said it is natural that a country like Nepal with limited resources will face more challenges. The Nepali Prime Minister said all efforts will therefore be focused to contain the outbreak. Screenings will be done of those suspected of infection and second round of tests will be carried out to ensure infection status, he added.
    • Oli said, though only nine cases have been detected in Nepal so far but country is still at a high risk. He added, the government has left no stone unturned in the fight against the pandemic and all necessary measures have been taken to contain the outbreak. He also urged Nepali people to stay home and maintain physical distancing to remain safe from the greatest challenges of the present time.
    • Meanwhile, the Nepal government has decided to suspend all international flights till 30 of this month as a precautionary measure against the spread of COVID-19. The decision was taken at a meeting of the High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 held in Kathmandu today.


    1. Hockey India donates additional 75 lakh rupees towards PM-CARES Fund


    • Hockey India today donated an additional 75 lakh rupees towards the PM-CARES Fund to take its total contribution to one crore rupees to tackle COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
    • Hockey India had earlier donated 25 lakh rupees towards the cause on April 1. The decision to donate an additional 75 lakh rupees was taken by the Hockey India Executive Board.


    1. FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, scheduled in November postponed

    • The FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, which was scheduled to be played in India between November 2nd and 21st, has been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, FIFA said, the new dates for the tournament will be identified later.
    • The decision was taken by the FIFA-Confederations working group in its first meeting held yesterday. The working group also postponed FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup which was scheduled between August and September in Panama and Costa Rica. The working group has been recently established by the FIFA Council to address the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Under-17 Women’s World Cup was scheduled to be played in India across five host cities – Navi Mumbai, Guwahati, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and Bhubaneswar.



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