Daily Current Affairs - 07th Apr 2020

Anurag Srivastava takes charge as MEA Spokesman

  • Senior diplomat Anurag Srivastava has took charge as the Spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs, succeeding Mr Raveesh Kumar. Mr Srivastava, a 1999-batch Indian Foreign Service Officer, was serving as India's Ambassador to Ethiopia before this appointment.

Bank of Maharashtra gets government mandate to collect donations for PM Cares Fund

  • State-owned Bank of Maharashtra (BoM) said that the government has nominated it for collection of donations for the PM-CARES Fund to help fight COVID-19 pandemic. The contributions can be made by cash, RTGS, NEFT, IMPS, cheques and demand drafts drawn in favour of the PM CARES Fund.
  • The contribution made for the fund is 100 per cent exempted under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act.
  • Last week, Indian Overseas Bank has been nominated for collection of donations for PM-Cares Fund.
  • The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-Cares Fund) was set up on March 28 to raise money for combating the Covid-19 crisis and to provide relief to the affected.

Force majeure clause won't apply to coronavirus death claims in life insurance policies

  • The Life Insurance Council of India has announced that all life insurance companies, both public and private, will process all coronavirus-related death claims, at the earliest. The Council also confirmed that the clause of ‘Force Majeure’ will not apply in case of COVID-19 death claims. This step was taken to reassure customers who had reached out to individual life insurance companies seeking clarity on this clause in their contract as well as to dispel rumours to the contrary.
  • Typically, force majeure events include an Act of God or natural disasters, war or war-like situations, labour unrest or strikes, epidemics, pandemics, etc.
  • Life Insurance Council is a forum that connects various stakeholders of the insurance sector. It develops and coordinates all discussions between the Government, Regulatory Board and the public.

Global coronavirus death toll crosses 70,000, says WHO

  • The Noval Coronavirus has killed more than 70,000 people across the globe, the majority in Europe. According to figures compiled from official government data and the World Health Organisation, out of a total of 70,009 killed in the pandemic, 50,215 are in Europe. Italy is leading the global death toll with 15,877 fatalities, followed by Spain with 13,055, the United States with 9,648 and France with 8,078.

Govt relaxes export curbs on 24 pharma ingredients, medicines

  • The union government has relaxed export curbs on 24 pharma ingredients and medicines including vitamin B1 and B12. Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) issued a notification in this regard. Last month, DGFT had imposed export restrictions on 26 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and formulations, under which exporter has to obtain a licence or permission from the DGFT.
  • Easing of curbs on 24 APIs and its formulations assumed significance as certain pharma companies have raised concerns over these restrictions. With this, export of these items is allowed freely without any restrictions.

ICMR to get 10 lakh RT-PCR testing kits

  • The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was procuring 10 lakh reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kits used for COVID-19 diagnosis. Seven depots have been established for uninterrupted supply of reagents across the nation for efficient distribution to government testing laboratories.
  • It said that 136 government and 56 private laboratories can handle 18,000 tests a day.

India receives 1.7 lakh PPE coveralls from China to fight Covid-19

  • India has received 1.70 lakh personal protection equipment (PPE) coveralls donated by China, the Union Health Ministry said. Along with the domestic supplies of 20,000 coveralls, a total of 1.90 lakh coveralls will now be distributed to hospitals and will add to the 3,87,473 PPEs already available in the country as of now.
  • In addition to this, 2 lakh domestically produced N-95 masks are also being sent to various hospitals. Including these, over 20 lakh N-95 masks have been supplied by the government of India.

Indian Ministers, MPs To Take 30% Pay Cut For One Year

  • In the wake of a financial crisis stemming from the new coronavirus pandemic, the Union cabinet cleared an ordinance to cut salaries of all ministers and members of Parliament for a year.
  • Chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the cabinet decided to amend the Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members of Parliament Act through an ordinance, to cut salaries of all ministers, including himself, for a year by 30 percent.
  • The president, vice-president, governors have also conveyed that they will take a salary cut of 30 percent for a year.

Italy unveils record 430 bn US dollars stimulus to boost economy

  • Italy has unveiled a record 430 billion US Dollar stimulus to help businesses hurt by a month-long national lockdown that is like to run on for many more weeks. The programme will add to the 340 billion euros in government-backed loans announced last month. Half of the new package will be earmarked for export-oriented companies whose turnover has imploded over the past month.

Japan PM Shinzo Abe proposes state of emergency for several major regions over COVID-19

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed a state of emergency for several major regions seeing a sharp rise in coronavirus cases. He also announced stimulus package worth one trillion US dollar to cushion the impact on the world's third-biggest economy. The declaration hands regional governors the power to ask residents to stay inside, seek the closure of businesses that attract large crowds and commandeer land and buildings for medical purposes.

Kobe Bryant, eight others selected for Basketball Hall of Fame

  • Kobe Bryant will be posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Los Angeles Lakers great Bryant retired in 2016; he was the NBA Most Valuable Player in 2008, was Finals MVP twice and earned 18 All-Star selections. He was in the United States team that won Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012.
  • Tim Duncan, the longtime San Antonio Spurs forward, and ex-Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Garnett will also be inducted.
  • The Hall of Fame is named after Dr James Naismith, the Canadian physician who invented basketball.

Nepal extends nationwide lockdown until April 15 to prevent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic

  • Nepal government has decided to extend nationwide lockdown until April 15 to prevent outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in Kathmandu.
  • The government had first enforced week-long lockdown from March 24 which was later extended until April 7. So far, nine positive cases have been reported in Nepal out of which eight are active while one person who was diagnosed in January has recovered.

Ordnance Factory Board to roll out modified tents as isolation units to check Covid-19 pandemic

  • The Ordnance Factory Board under the Ministry of Defence is ready to roll out modified tents in the form of low cost isolation units to check the Covid-19 pandemic. These tents are being assembled at Ordnance Factory Kanpur and are 30 per cent cheaper than tents used for military purposes.
  • The Ordnance Factory tents measuring 9.55 sq meters can accommodate two patients each and all necessary medical equipment that are required to fight Covid-19.

Railways converts 2500 coaches into isolation wards for coronavirus patients

  • Indian Railways has converted 2,500 coaches into isolation wards, achieving half of its target of delivering 5000 such coaches in the first phase as part of its efforts to supplement the government's measures to fight coronavirus. With the conversion of around 2,500 coaches, 40,000 isolation beds are now ready for use.
  • These isolation coaches are being prepared only as a contingency and to supplement efforts of the Ministry of Health in fighting COVID-19.

SC issues guidelines for all courts for hearings through video conferencing during COVID-19 outbreak

  • The Supreme Court of India passed a slew of directions for all courts across the country to extensively use video-conferencing for judicial proceedings. It said that congregation of lawyers and litigants must be suspended to maintain social distancing amid coronavirus pandemic. A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that recent outbreak of the COVID-19 has necessitated social distancing and it is necessary to ensure that court premises do not contribute to the spread of coronavirus.
  • The top court, which has restricted its functioning and is conducting hearing through video conferencing of extremely urgent matters during the lockdown period since March 25.

US Prez Trump signs executive order for recovery, use of space resources

  • US President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order aimed at encouraging international support for its policy allowing private industry for recovery and use of space resources from the Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies The executive order titled 'Encouraging International Support For The Recovery And Use Of Space Resources' will create long-time suitability in the human exploration of Moon, Mars and other celestial bodies.

WFI may hold fresh trials

  • The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) mulling over holding fresh trials for Olympic Qualifiers. The governing body may take this step in the wake of the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics and Asian and World Qualifiers to next year said its secretary V.N. Prasood.
  • The United World Wrestling (UWW) has announced the new dates for the qualifiers. The Asian and World qualification tournaments will be held from March 26 to 29 in Xi’an, China and April 30 to May 3 in Sofia, Bulgaria respectively.