Current Affairs in Short: 21 April 2020
Kapil Dev Tripathi has been appointed as the new Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind on contract basis.
Kapil Dev Tripathi appointed as Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind
• Kapil Dev Tripathi was on April 20, 2020 appointed as the new Secretary to President Ram Nath Kovind. The appointment was made by the appointments committee of the cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
• Tripathi, a 1980 batch retired IAS officer of Assam-Meghalaya cadre, is at present the chairman of Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB).
• Tripathi has been appointed to the post on a contract basis, for a term co-terminus with the tenure of the President.
Madhya Pradesh cabinet expansion: Five Cabinet Ministers inducted
• Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan expanded his cabinet on April 21, 2020 by inducting five new Ministers. The cabinet ministers were administered the oath of the office by Governor Lalji Tandon in a simple ceremony.
• The five new cabinet ministers include Meena Singh, Narottam Mishra, Kamal Patel, Govind Singh Rajput and Tulsi Silawat. The cabinet ministers were sworn in almost a month after Shivraj Singh Chouhan took oath as the new Chief Minister of the state on March 23. The Chief Minister was working alone since then.
• The swearing-in comes after the collapse of the 15-month Kamal Nath-led Congress government after the resignation of 22 Congress MLAs, who shifted allegiance to the BJP including senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia.
Health Ministry issues guideline for bringing home bodies of coronavirus victims
• The Union Health Ministry on April 21, 2020 issued guidelines for bringing home the bodies of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients. While the guidelines do not recommend the importation of human remains of such cases, they state that the airline shall ensure that the external packing of the coffin is undamaged and the airport health officer will be required to verify the documents and inspect the packing as per the provisions of the Indian Aircraft (Public Health) Rules, 1954.
• The airport health officer will verify the death certificate mentioning the cause of death. A 'No objection certificate' will also be required from Indian missions and an embalming certificate from an authorised agency for the transportation of human remains.
• In case there are any obvious signs of damage to the external packing, the handlers wearing PPE, will be required to cover the coffin in plastic sheets to avoid any contact with the body/ body fluids before handing over the remains to the concerned authority for final burial/incineration.
• The personal handling the human remains should also follow the laid down procedures for COVID-19 such as donning of personal protective equipment and other protective measures. The coffin will be buried following the norms for burial/incineration of human remains with high-risk pathogens. The handlers have to stay in isolation for 28 days and the designated vehicle will also be disinfected.
Coronavirus likely to have originated from animals, no sign of manipulation: WHO
• The World Health Organization (WHO) informed on April 21, 2020 that all available evidence suggests that the novel coronavirus originated from animals in China in late 2019 and it was not produced or manipulated in a laboratory.
This clarification comes a week after US President Donald Trump stated that his government was trying to investigate whether the virus originated from a lab in Wuhan, China.
• WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib clarified that all evidence suggests that the virus has an animal origin but it was not clear how it jumped to humans. Chaib stated that the virus likely has its ecological reservoir in bats but how it spread from bats to humans is still to be discovered.
• The Wuhan Institute of Virology has also dismissed the rumours that the virus was synthesized in the lab and that it was allowed to escape.
New York to form response team to address anti-Asian harassment amid COVID-19
• New York is setting up a new response team to deal with the rising number of incidents of harassment and discrimination against Asian-Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
• The response team will comprise staff from the Law Enforcement Bureau and the Community Relations Bureau and will work in coordination to efficiently track and respond to harassment and discrimination reports.
• Over 14,000 people have died in New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic and over 200,000 people are infected by it. The total number of coronavirus cases in the US has risen to 787,370 including over 35,000 deaths.