World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 as pandemic disease.
Till now, 1,18,000 positive cases have been reported globally in 114 countries and more than 90% of cases are in just four countries.
WHO has earlier declared the disease as a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
What is India doing to prevent spread of COVID-19?
Universal screening of all international flights is being done at 30 airports as a preventive measure.
The Indian Army is establishing additional quarantine facilities for 1,500 personnel.
The District Collector has been designated as the nodal officer for containment operations. States have been guided in terms of identifying the containment zone, buffer zone and preparation of a micro plan to ensure effective active and passive surveillance and contact tracing through inter-disciplinary teams in the areas where cases are located.
India has suspended regular visas/e-visa to nationals of Italy, South Korea, Japan, and Italy.
The Union Home Ministry has transferred some of its power to Union Health Ministry so that the health ministry can act as a coordinating agency for disaster management and help in tackling the Covid-19 if it turns out to be a national-level disaster.
Outbreak: When the number of cases of disease increases sharply in a specific region.
Epidemic: An outbreak of a disease that spreads among the population of a particular country or community. E.g., Ebola, SARS, etc.
Pandemic: When the number of cases of disease spreads beyond thought to different regions affecting a large number of people. E.g., COVID-19, HIV/AIDS
Coronavirus: It is a term used for a family of viruses. Some of these cause the common cold, MERS, SARS, etc. COVID-19 is the name given to disease caused due to the novel coronavirus called SARS-COV-2.
Symptoms of COVID-19 appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, a runny nose, and difficulty in breathing.
States/UTs to be advised to invoke the provisions of Section 2 of Epidemic Act, 1897.
Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897:
The Act was introduced by the British to deal with an outbreak of bubonic plague in Bombay.
Section 2 of the Act describes the powers of the state government to empower any person to take some measures and, by public notice, prescribe such temporary regulations to be observed by the public.
Section 2A of the Act empowers the Central government to inspect any ship leaving or arriving at any port and for detention thereof, or of any person intending to sail therein, or arriving thereby.
A new variety of paddy Sahyadri Megha has been developed by the University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (UAHS), Shivamogga, Karnataka.
The new variety is developed to prevent the decrease in area under paddy cultivation.
The area under paddy that was around 1.5 lakh hectares in 1990 has declined to around 1.05 lakh hectares in this district.
Also the ‘Jyothi’ variety had become vulnerable to blast disease and other infestations and there was a demand for a new paddy variety that is resistant to the infestations.
This new red variety is resistant to blast disease and is rich in fibre and protein.
It is developed by cross-breeding the best among the ‘Jyothi’ variety with that of ‘Akkalu’ variety.
It is caused by fungus Pyricularia oryzae and is a severe disease affecting rice.
It is also known as rice rotten neck or pitting disease.
Two extremely rare white giraffes in northeast Kenya have been killed by poachers. One of those killed was the only white female giraffe in the world.
The white giraffe was first spotted in 2016 in Tanzania and then in Kenya.
The white color is due to leucism, which is a genetic condition due to which skin cells have no pigmentation.
Unlike albinism, animals with leucism produce dark pigment in their soft tissue; thus, their eyes are dark in colour.
It is the tallest land animal found in savanna and throughout Africa.
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Listed in Appendix II of CITES.
Reasons for Decline in population: Habitat loss, civil unrest, poaching and ecological issues.
Q. What are the measures taken by the Indian government to contain COVID-19? (200 words)