WHO : CORONA VIRUS A PANDEMIC 

The World Health Organization on March 11, declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. There are 118,000 cases, more than 4,000 deaths, the agency said, and the virus has found a foothold on every continent except for Antarctica. 

What is a pandemic? 

  • According to the WHO, a pandemic is the worldwide spread of a new disease.
  • The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a pandemic as “an epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, usually affecting a large number of people.”
  • The same body defines an epidemic as “an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area.”
  • Thus, the ‘pandemic’ status has to do more with the spread of the disease, than its severity.

Coronavirus a pandemic: What changes? 

  • Declaring the disease a pandemic won’t mean the WHO gets more funds or more powers to fight it. 
  • The declaration is a formal announcement that the WHO assesses the impact of COVID 19 to have reached a new level.

What is the difference among a pandemic, endemic and an outbreak? 

  • In epidemiologic terms, 
  • An Outbreak refers to a number of cases that exceeds what would be expected. 
  • A pandemic is when there is an outbreak that affects most of the world. 
  • Endemic is when there is an infection within a geographic location that is existing perpetually.

Three supercomputers built in three years of National Mission  

News : 

  • INDIA HAS produced just three supercomputers since 2015 —less than one a year on average — under the National Supercomputer Mission (NSM).

National Supercomputer Mission 

  • National Supercomputer Mission (NSM), a dedicated programme aimed at boosting the country’s overall computing facilities.
  • The Mission envisages empowering our national academic and R&D institutions spread over the country by installing a vast supercomputing grid comprising of more than 70 high-performance computing facilities. 
  • These supercomputers will also be networked on the National Supercomputing grid over the National Knowledge Network (NKN). The NKN is another programme of the government which connects academic institutions and R&D labs over a high speed network.
  • The Mission would be implemented and steered jointly by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) at an estimated cost of Rs.4500 crore over a period of seven years.

Supercomputers 

  • NSM’s first supercomputer — PARAM Shivay installed in IIT-BHU, Varanasi, was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2019, nearly four years post the mission-launch. This 837 TeraFlop capacity HPC was built at a cost of Rs 23.50 crore
  • The second supercomputer with a capacity of 1.66 PetaFlop was installed at IIT-Kharagpur, and cost Rs 47 crore. 
  • The third system, PARAM Brahma, installed in September last year at IISER-Pune, has a capacity of 797 TeraFlop, and cost Rs 23.50 crore,

Globally, China continues to lead the supercomputer race. It added eight more supercomputers in the last six months taking its existing numbers to 227. This giant leap helped China retain its top position, followed by the US (119 supercomputers), as per the TOP500 report of November 2019. Other countries in this league are Japan (29), France (18), Germany (16), The Netherlands (15), Ireland (14) and the United Kingdom (11). 

States to be asked to invoke Epidemic Disease Act 

News 

It has been decided that all States/Union Territories should be advised to invoke provisions of Section 2 of the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897 so that all advisories being issued from time to time by the Ministry/State/UTs are enforceable,” Health Secretary Preeti Sudan said on March 11, after a meeting of a high-level Group of Ministers. The GoM was constituted to review the measures taken for the management of COVID-19 in India. 

IMA’s appeal 

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said that sharing data of infected people on a daily basis with the public has created panic across the country. 

It appealed to the government to “classify the data” of the pandemic and take appropriate action with “clinical precision.” 

The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) also issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19. 

Privilege motion 

Context :  Karnataka Congress to move privilege motion against Medical Education minister K Sudhakar for remarks against MLA and former speaker Ramesh Kumar. 

What does Privilege motion mean? 

  • Unlike the no confidence motion, the privilege motion is applicable to both the Rajya-Sabha and the Lok Sabha. 
  • As MP’s of the Parliament, the members are granted certain privileges individually as well as collectively so that they can perform their duties properly. 
  • But, if any of the member disregards these immunities or rights, the act is known as breach of privilege and is liable to be punished under the same as per the Parliament laws.

Rule 187 / 222 

  • The privilege motion has a mention in Chapter 20 of rule 22 for the Lok Sabha and Chapter 16 Rule 187 for the Rajya Sabha. 
  • If any member wants to move the privilege motion he or she has to provide a notice to the Speaker before 10 am against any other member, committee or even the house. 
  • The first scrutiny level of the privilege motion in the Lok Sabha is through the Speaker and Rajya Sabha through the Chairperson. If the Speaker or Chairperson admits the motion than the accused or concerned is given a chance to explain themselves.

Referring a Motion 

  • After listening to the member the Speaker/Chairperson can refer the motion to the parliamentary committee. 
  • It consists of 15 members in equal strength from various political parties. They prepare a report on the same and a debate of one and half hour is allowed on the report prior passing the final orders. 
  • The speaker may also suggest that the ordered be tabled and decision or resolution be passed on it in collectively. 
  • The procedure remains the same for the Rajya Sabha or the upper house as well. 
  • Only that in the Rajya Sabha the committee is made up of only 10 members against 15.

SBI cuts fixed deposit, lending rates 

  • The State Bank of India reduced its lending rate by 10-15 bps, and lowered fixed deposit and savings account interest rates.
  • It also waived the minimum balance requirement for savings accounts.
  • SBI has reduced the one-year marginal cost of fund-based lending rate by 10 basis points to 7.75% with effect from March 10.
  • The bank has reduced the retail term deposit rates by 10 bps for deposits with a maturity of one year and above while the rate has been cut by 50 bps for deposits up to 45 days.
  • Interest rate on bulk deposits has been reduced by 15 bps for deposits in ‘180 days & above’ tenors.
  • The bank also reduced the savings bank interest rate to 3% from 3.25%.

10 cases of gastroenteritis, cholera confirmed in Bengaluru city 

BBMP intensifies crackdown on roadside eateries 

  • The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has intensified its eviction drive of unauthorized and unhygienic roadside eateries and meat shops.

About Gastroenteritis 

  • Gastroenteritis, also known as infectious diarrhea, is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract -the stomach and small intestine.
  • Gastroenteritis is usually caused by viruses.
  • However, bacteria, parasites, and fungus can also cause gastroenteritis.

Signs and symptoms 

  • Symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, fever, lack of energy and dehydration may also occur. 
  • Eating improperly prepared food, drinking contaminated water or close contact with a person who is infected can spread the disease.
  •  If the stool is bloody, the cause is less likely to be viral and more likely to be bacterial.

Prevention 

  • Prevention includes hand washing with soap, drinking clean water, proper disposal of human waste and breastfeeding babies instead of using formula.
  • The rotavirus vaccine is recommended as a prevention for children.
  • Treatment involves getting enough fluids.

With panic over the spread of COVID-19, there are several misconceptions and queries about the disease and how people can avoid complications. 

What are the big misconceptions about the spread of the virus? 

  • Among the big misconceptions are that it is spread through air and you can get it from pets and animals. 
  • Available evidence clearly indicates that the main mode of spread is through droplet infection either from close contact with an infected person or touching contaminated surfaces and subsequently touching nose, eye, or mouth without washing hands.

How long does the virus survive in the atmosphere? 

  • It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. 
  • Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. 
  • This may vary under different conditions such as type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment.
  • If a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. 
  • Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

How does a person get infected? 

  • People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. 
  • The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. 
  • These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. 
  • Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. 
  • People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets. 
  • This is why it is important to stay more than one-metre (3 feet) away from a person who is sick.

Cocoon production poised to pick up 

This will help meet rise in demand for indigenous silk 

  • Cocoon production in Karnataka State, which had been hit by a mulberry disease, appears poised to pick up just in time to meet the growing demand for indigenous silk.
  • The average price of cocoons, which used to be around ₹480 to ₹495 for crossbreed and ₹630 to ₹670 for superior quality bivoltine, has eased to an average of ₹400 for cross breed and ₹492 for bivoltine.
  • Chinese silk has become scarce in the Indian market as the available stocks are fast exhausting.
  • Silk traders in Bengaluru confirmed that silk imports from China have been badly hit on account of coronavirus.

Karaga, Kempe Gowda Jayanti celebrations on same day, for now 

Final decision will be taken later after assessment of COVID-19 cases 

  • The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has tentatively decided to go ahead with celebrating the Bengaluru Karaga and has started preparing for it. 
  • It is also planning to celebrate Kempe Gowda Jayanti on the same day.

Karaga festival 

  • Karaga is one of the oldest festivals celebrated in the heart of Bengaluru. This is the festival of Draupadi.
  • Bengaluru Karaga is primarily a well-known tradition of 'Vahnikula Kshatriyas Thigala' community in southern Karnataka.
  • The Karaga festival is generally led by the men of the community.
  • The roots of Karaga go back over five centuries, and to the Thigala community which has kept the festival alive over the centuries. 
  • Mystery shrouds the origin of the Thigalas.
  • By one account, the Thigalas sprung form the lions of the sage Angirasa whose progeny were the founders of most of the dynasties of South India.
  • Participants in the Karaga bear the deity on their head without touching by hand and moving around.
  • It is believed that the Draupadi will come down from heaven to earth and stay for three days with the community. 
  • In this connection the community will perform Vratha (religious practice) for 11 days in a year from the day of Chaitra Shashti.

App to keep a check on forest fires this summer 

It can save 30 to 90 minutes between detection and alert 

  • The new app is said to be an improvisation over the Forest Survey of India (FSI) fire alert. 
  • The FSI alert system, which started in 2004, is based on inputs from two collaborative arrangements — NASA-ISRO and ISRO-FSI. 
  • The fire hotspots detected by sensors are received at the Shadnagar Earth Station of the National Remote Sensing Centre. 
  • The hotspots are then transmitted to the FSI electronically, which processes them, generates alerts, and disseminates them to registered end users.

Oil drops as Saudi, UAE plan to boost capacity 

OPEC, EIA cut global demand forecast 

Oil prices fell on Wednesday after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced plans to boost production capacity and OPEC and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) cut oil demand forecasts because of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Brent crude was down $1.03, or almost 2.8%, at $36.19 per barrel by 7.25 p.m. while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was off 99 cents or 2.9% at $33.37. 

Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said it expected global demand to rise by just 60,000 bpd in 2020, a reduction of 9,20,000 bpd from its previous forecast. 

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) also said the global oil demand is expected to dive by 9,10,000 bpd in the first quarter due to the coronavirus outbreak. 

 

 

 

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