Tamil Nadu - has stepped up plans to tackle the spread of Covid-19 pandemic with the government declaring that the state is in the second stage of the transmission
Stage 2 is when the infection is transmitted to the firstCOVID-19 positive patient (with travel history)

  • The State Government has proposed tozone’ around homes of people who tested positive and a further 3km radius bufferzone in 10 districts
  • In this containment zone, the health workers would go house to house to check for people with symptoms of the viral infection
  • They would be creating a list of high risk patients, including the elderly and those with chronic ailments such as heart and renal conditions.

The State - has constituted an expert committee comprising 19 members to
track the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the state

The committee will be tasked to develop treatment protocols for managing
patients and formulate guidelines for the State.

  • The State Appropriate Authority under the Clinical Establishment Act, 1997, has
    nominated doctors from various government and private hospitals, including those
    who have retired from service, as members of the expert committee.
  • The committee’s members include professors of medicine from
  • Madras Medical College
  • Stanley Medical College
  • Kilpauk Medical College.
    The experts would continuously monitor the spread of COVID-19 in the State and
    offer suggestions for intervention, prevention and control of its spread
  • They would also develop treatment protocols for managing the infected cases in
    the state
  • All government and private clinical establishments would take advice from the
    committee on managing patients in difficult situations.

On March 28, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan - announced that the
state will go in for “rapid testing” to assess more quickly and effectively the
extent of the virus’s spread within threatened communities.

  • The rapid testing will involve a blood sample instead of a swab and results will be
    known in 45 minutes to 2 hours.
  • It will help screen more people in a mass way on a daily basis and is much
    cheaper than the present RT-PCR testing method.
  • Moreover, the rapid testing can be repeated when a patient is in isolation /
    quarantine to check IgG AB levels, which can reveal the extent of recovery.
  • The test will initially be conducted in districts which have the highest number of
    positive cases and where a large number of people, who were carriers of the
    virus, returned from abroad
  • The tests will be performed on Covid-19 suspects or symptomatic high-risk
    contacts that were negative by RTPCR (present testing method)
  • It will also be extended to high risk healthcare workers
  • The localities where a cluster of severe acute respiratory infection cases without
    diagnosis has been reported and who recovered from severe acute respiratory
    infection will also be subjected to the tests

NATIONAL

On March 28, the government - set up ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance
and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)’ seeking
contributions from public to combat situations like Covid-19 pandemic

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged people to contribute generously, saying it will
    strengthen disaster management capacities and encourage research to protect
    citizens.

  • The donations to this fund will be exempted from income tax under section 80(G).

  • The Prime Minister is the chairman of this trust and its members include ministers
    of Home, Finance and Defence.
    The account of the fund is held by the State Bank of India.

  • The fund was set up keeping in mind the need for having a dedicated national
    fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress
    situation.

  • The other funds that are in the hands of the Prime Minister include PM National
    Relief Fund (PMNRF)

  • It was raised by the then PM Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948 to assist displaced
    persons from Pakistan.

  • The PMNRF is used to support people affected by natural and man-made
    disasters like floods, cyclones and earthquakes.

  • The fund is also used to help with medical treatment like kidney
    transplantation, cancer treatment and acid attack.

  • So far, the fund was extensively used during 2013 Uttarakhand floods, 2014
    Assam Violence, 2015 Tamil Nadu Floods, 2015 Madhya Pradesh
    explosion.
    The House of Tata has announced the contribution of Rs.1,500 crore to combat the
    coronavirus crisis in India.

  • This is the largest commitment made by a business group in the country so far.

  • Tata Sons and its controlling shareholder Tata Trusts have committed a support
    of Rs.1,000 crore and Rs.500 crore respectively to “protect and empower all affected
    communities”.

  • The funds will be used to develop treatment facilities, manufacture respiratory
    systems & protective health gear, train health workers and supply testing kits.

  • The BCCI also announced to contribute 51 crore to the fund as the government
    fights against the coronavirus outbreak.

INTERNATIONAL

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections worldwide – has topped
6,00,000 on March 28 as new cases reported quickly in Europe and the
United States

  • It showed more than 640,000 infected cases and over 29,000 deaths.
  • However, on a good note, more than 130,000 people were said to have
    recovered.
  • It has to be noted that within two days, around one lakh cases have been reported
    across the globe, indicating the fast spread of the pandemic
  • While the US now leads the world in reported infections — with more than
    104,000 cases — five countries exceed its roughly 1,800 deaths - Italy, Spain,
    China, Iran and France.
  • President Trump invoked the Defence Production Act on March 27, ordering
    General Motors to begin manufacturing ventilators.
  • Trump signed a $2.2 trillion stimulus package, after the House approved the
    sweeping measure.
  • It will send cheques to millions of Americans, boost unemployment benefits,
    help businesses and toss a life preserver to an overwhelmed health care
    system
  • The US on March 27 announced $174 million financial aid to 64 countries
    including $2.9 million to India to help them fight the pandemic.
  • It is providing $1.3 million to Sri Lanka, $ 1.8 million to Nepal and $3.4
    million to Bangladesh
  • Spain, where stay-at-home restrictions have been in place for nearly two weeks,
    reported 832 more deaths on March 28, its highest daily count yet, bringing its
    total to 5,690.
  • Another 8,000 confirmed infections pushed that count above 72,000 in the
    country.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT

Abbott Laboratories – has developed a coronavirus test that can identify the
infection in as little as five minutes, and is so small and portable it can be
used in almost any healthcare setting

  • The medical-device maker plans to supply 50,000 tests a day starting April 1
  • The molecular test searches for fragments of the coronavirus genome, which can
    quickly be detected when present at high levels

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