Current Affairs (5th May 2021)
- Since last August, 24 incidents of fire in hospitals in India have been taken place, despite the hospitals having passed fire checks and audits. As many as 93 people, most of them Covid-19 patients, died.
- An “overstressed” hospital system unable to bear the rising patient load for the frequent fire incidents.
- Hospitals are increasing beds, equipment, and staff to admit more Covid patients, but it is not possible to immediately expand the electrical wiring system.
- Medical equipment or wires carrying current beyond their capacity can overheat.
- In 13 of the 24 cases, the fire began in an ICU. These hospital ICUs did not function up to 100% capacity before the pandemic. The ventilator, equipment, air conditioners are working 24 x 7 now. It puts a pressure on the entire system, ideally air conditioners need to run for 15-16 hours and then need a cooling period.
- ICUs lack cross-ventilation – this is the case with all ICUs as they are sealed for the purpose of keeping them sterile.
- Due to Covid, there has been an increase of inflammable material in Hospitals – sanitiser spills and vapour, higher oxygen content in the air, and PPE kits, which are made of synthetic material. “Highly inflammable material such as these spread fires quickly” and leave very little time for a response.A high oxygen percentage and sanitiser fumes in the ICU led to a flash fire.
- In makeshift hospitals, jumbo centres for Covid patients present their own challenges. They are made of highly inflammable materials, and sprinklers or fire alarms are difficult to install. Only fire extinguishers can be provided.
- A back-up AC is necessary, which is absent in small hospitals. Instead of a cassette or window AC, air handling units (AHU) must be installed in ICUs to circulate air as they are better workhorses.
- AHU take air from the atmosphere, “recondition” it — cooling or heating as required — and circulate it within a building or a section of the building through ducts.
- To further reduce response time, there is a need to plan training of staff in hospitals, deputation of more fire officials in major Covid hospitals and regular auditing once a week or two.
- Cross-ventilation is necessary in ICUs to allow fumes an outlet, which would mean unsealing a part of it.
Lifting food grains from FCI
- 28 States and Union Territories have started lifting food grains from Food Corporation of India (FCI) depots for free distribution of food grains to poor under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.
- Food Corporation of India has already positioned sufficient food grains in all States and UTs for successful implementation of the scheme.
- The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY) was launched in the year 2016 by PM Narendra Modi along with the other provisions of the Taxation Laws (Second Amendment) Act, 2016. It came into effect from 17th December 2016 under the Ministry of Finance.
- Under this scheme, five kilogram per person per month food grains is provided to the National Food Security Act, NFSA beneficiaries belonging to both Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Priority Householders categories.
- Due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in India, the Finance Minister, on 26th March 2020, had announced a ₹1.7 lakh crore Gareeb Kalyan package to mitigate the loss faced by the poor due to the coronavirus lockdown.
- Earlier, the scheme was valid from December 16, 2016, to March 31, 2017, and later was extended till June 2020.
- The PMGKY provided an opportunity to declare the unaccounted wealth and black money in a confidential manner and avoid prosecution after paying a fine of 50% on the undisclosed income. An additional 25% of the undisclosed income is invested in the scheme which can be refunded after four years, without any interest.
Myanmar refugees can approach UNHCR: HC
- The High Court of Manipur allowed seven Myanmar nationals, who entered India secretly following the military coup in the country, to travel to New Delhi to seek protection from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
- Though India is not a party to the UN Refugee Conventions, the court observed that the country is a party to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966.
- It noted that the far-reaching and multitude protection afforded by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution encompasses the right of non-refoulment.
- Non-refoulement is the principle under international law that a person fleeing from persecution from his own country should not be forced to return.
- Thousands of other Myanmar nationals are taking shelter in the bordering villages of Manipur without any support and protection apart from the hospitality and warmth of the poor villagers.
- India and Myanmar share a 1,643-km border and people on either side have familial ties.
- People including policemen and women from Myanmar have fled to India, following a military crackdown.
Stand of India:
- India has no clear refugee policy as decisions are made on a case to case basis.
- India has not signed the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention on the Status of Refugees, or its 1967 protocol that stipulates the rights and services host states must provide refugees.
- However, India has offered shelter to Tibetans, Chakmas of Bangladesh, Afghans, and ethnic Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka.
- Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 aims to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants from selected countries.
- It is the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives and protecting the rights of refugees, forcibly displaced communities, and stateless people.
- The office of the UNHCR was created in 1950, during the aftermath of the Second World War, to help millions of Europeans who had fled or lost their homes.
End of Ebola
- The Democratic Republic of Congo declared the end of an Ebola outbreak that infected 12 people in the eastern province of North Kivu and killed six of them.
- The outbreak was contained using Merck’s Ebola vaccine, which was given to more than 1,600 of the patients’ contacts and contacts of contacts.
- The cases were genetically linked to the 2018-20 Ebola epidemic that killed more than 2,200 people; the second-highest toll recorded in the disease’s history.
Ebola virus disease
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- Virus species: The virus family Filoviridae includes three genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. Within the genus Ebolavirus, five species have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston, and Tai Forest.
- It was first occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests in 1976.The outbreak started in Guinea and then moved across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats) and then spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- It is thought that fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are natural Ebola virus hosts.
- People can get the virus through sexual contact as well.
- Health impact: The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
- Treatment: Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralize the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
Special 301 Report
- Recently, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) released its annual Special 301 Report.
Highlights of the report
- USTR reviewed more than 100 trading partners for this year’s report, and it categorised eight on Priority Watch List and 23 on the Watch List.
|Watch list countries||Priority Watch List Countries|
|Algeria, Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mexico, Pakistan, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.||India, Argentina, Chile, China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.
- The United States has been closely monitoring China’s progress in implementing its commitments under the United States-China Economic and Trade Agreement.
- In 2020, China published several draft IP-related legal and regulatory measures and finalised over a dozen measures.
- China amended the patent Law, copyright, and criminal laws in the past year. However, these steps toward reform require effective implementation and fall short of the full range of fundamental changes needed to improve the IP landscape in China.
Reasons Cited for Putting India on the ‘Priority Watch List’
India remains one of the world’s most challenging major economies with respect to the protection and enforcement of IP.
- The potential threat of patent revocations, lack of presumption of patent validity and the narrow patentability criteria under the India Patents Act burden companies across different sectors.
- Moreover, patent applicants continue to confront costly and time-consuming pre and post-grant oppositions, long waiting periods to receive patent approval and excessive reporting requirements.
- Stakeholders continue to express concerns over vagueness in the interpretation of the India Patents Act.
- While India’s enforcement of IP in the online sphere has gradually improved, a lack of concrete benefits for innovators and creators persists, which continues to undermine their efforts.
India’s initiative in safeguarding IPR
- The Government has taken several steps that have led to an improvement in patent filing, as also for safeguarding Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Some of these steps are:
- National IPR Policy for India: It was adopted by the Government of India on 12th May 2016, as a vision document that lays the future roadmap of IPRs in India.
- Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM): It has been set up to coordinate the implementation of the National IPR Policy.
- IP awareness programmes: They have been undertaken in academic institutions, at both school and college level, as also for industry.
- Simplification of Procedure: To streamline the processing of IP applications, IP procedures have been simplified and made user friendly by amendment to the Patents Rules in 2016 and Trademarks Rules in 2017.